Goals from Wilfried Zaha, Damien Delaney and a Yohan Cabaye strike in stoppage time were enough to see off a Norwich side playing their first game back in the top flight after winning promotion via the play-offs last year.
Substitute Nathan Redmond pulled one back for the Canaries after 68 minutes, ensuring a nervy end to the game for Alan Pardew’s side, but Cabaye’s goal was enough to wrap up all three points for the visitors.
Norwich will feel aggrieved, however, after seeing a Cameron Jerome goal controversially disallowed and strong claims for a penalty waved away in stoppage time after Connor Wickham appeared to push Sebastien Bassong in the box.
The hosts started the better of the two sides and had early chances to take the lead with Wes Hoolahan, Jonny Howson and Graham Dorrans all seeing a lot of the ball.
Lewis Grabban gave Palace an early warning as he got on the end of Howson’s cross into the box, firing wide from close range, but the flag had gone up for offside.
Dorrans and Steven Whittaker then combined beautifully as the full-back burst into the box to deliver a low cross but Grabban was stretching to reach it and could only poke the ball wide when he should have scored.
Palace came into the game more as the first half became a little scrappy.
Norwich players had already voiced their displeasure over a Glenn Murray tackle on Dorrans, with the striker lucky to escape any form of punishment, and there was another minor flashpoint when Jason Puncheon seemed to knock Whittaker off-balance as the pair chased the ball, with the Scotsman crashing painfully into Cabaye.
Alex Tettey then picked up the first yellow card of the game for a mistimed tackle on Pape Souaré but, again, the Norwich players were quick to let the Palace left-back know they thought he had made a meal of the incident.
Norwich were given a real wake-up call on the half-hour mark when Joel Ward kept a seemingly innocuous cross alive at the back post and his header down found Murray who prodded the ball towards goal from five yards but John Ruddy was equal to the effort.
The hosts did not heed that warning, however, falling behind with seven minutes remaining in the first half and it was all thanks to Palace’s two wide men.
Puncheon showed a bit of trickery and pace to get the better of Bassong down the right-hand side before picking out Zaha whose volley at the back post beat a scrambling Ruddy.
Norwich looked stunned after going behind and nearly lost another goal a moment later when Jordan Mutch forced a good stop from Ruddy with a powerful drive.
Palace did not have to wait long into the second half to double their lead with a perfectly executed set piece straight off the training ground.
Puncheon’s long corner picked out Souaré who made a late run into the box completely unmarked and his header found Damien Delaney at the back post who knocked the ball into the net.
That seemed to spark Norwich into life to some extent with Johnson’s header and then Whittaker’s long-range effort forcing McCarthy into decent stops.
They got a goal back out of nowhere with a little over 20 minutes remaining, however, when Redmond was allowed time and space on the edge of the Palace box and his long-range effort beat McCarthy down at his right-hand post.
Substitute Jerome thought he had scored an equaliser for the hosts but referee Simon Hooper blew his whistle after ruling that the striker had used a high boot to turn the ball into the net as he challenged for the ball with Ward.
Whittaker had an effort cleared off the line after his bouncing shot beat McCarthy before substitute Yannick Bolasie forced Ruddy into a good stop.
Bassong was left furious in stoppage time after he appeared to be pushed in the back by Wickham as he looked to attack the ball in the air but Hooper again waved away the Norwich claims and protests.
Cabaye then inflicted more pain on the already-infuriated Norwich players when he slipped the ball past Ruddy after being put through by James McArthur to wrap up the scoring and the three points for Palace.
Soccer Saturday verdict – Matt Le Tissier
Alex Neil can feel a bit aggrieved. Norwich started the game well and should have gone ahead. Norwich’s disallowed second goal was harsh. Early on in the game, certainly in the first 25-30 minutes, they were the more threatening side and then at 2-0 down they showed character to give it a go as well.
Bolasie came on, Zaha went off who had a good chance. Conor Wickham came on when legs were tiring a little bit and I’m sure Alan Pardew will be very happy with how his squad is shaping up.
Norwich: Ruddy (7) Whittaker (6) Martin (6) Bassong (6) Brady (6) Howson (7) Johnson (7) Tettey (5) Hoolahan (6) Dorrans (6) Grabban (6) Subs: Jerome (5) Hooper (3) Redmond (6)
Crystal Palace: McCarthy (6) Ward (6) Dann (6) Delaney (6) Souare (6) Mutch (6) Cabaye (7) McArthur (7) Zaha (7) Puncheon (7) Murray (7) Subs: Bolasie (5) Jedinak (3) Wickham (2)
Man of the match: Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace)