Late strikes from Almen Abdi and Matej Vydra denied Crystal Palace an opening day victory in the Championship over Gianfranco Zola’s Watford.


Owen Garvan had put Palace in the lead with a 13th minute penalty, after Wilfried Zaha had been taken down by John Eustace.


Watford saw a chance to equalise in the 20th minute go begging when Joe Garner planted his header onto Julian Speroni’s crossbar.


But the visitors were soon back on terms moments later when Speroni failed to hold onto a Sean Murray shot, allowing Martin Taylor to stab home the loose ball from close range.


But Palace were not deterred and Garvan put the Eagles back in front in the 29th minute after collecting Aaron Wilbraham’s flick-on before surging into the box and poking home. 


Kagisho Dikgacoi could have put Palace even further in front in the 32nd minute but saw his headed effort cleared off the line by Murray.


Watford rallied after the break, but Dougie Freedman’s men looked comfortable for long periods of the game with Zaha providing the main attacking threat.


It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Zola’s men equalised, Swiss midfielder Almen Abdi on loan from Udinese, firing home from outside the area.


A draw would have been a fair result, but Czech substitute Matej Vydra, again on loan from Udinese, turned on the corner of the area before unleashing an unstoppable shot into the top right hand corner of Speroni’s goal, with virtually the last kick of the game.