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Palace 0-4 Birmingham City: Eagles embarrassed at home by rampant Blues

CRYSTAL Palace were thumped 4-0 by Birmingham City at Selhurst Park this evening.

Despite promising signs from the Eagles, they fell behind against the run of play in vital moments of the contest before they had the final nails in the coffin confirmed with two further goals conceded.

It had been a great chance to go second in the Championship after Watford had been held to a 3-3 draw against Burnley and the Eagles will be hoping Hull City slip up at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Palace had the first effort of the match when Yannick Bolasie cut the ball back on the right and it looked as if a Birmingham player was set to clear, but it fell to Kagisho Dikgacoi on the edge of the box, who lashed over.

Blues youngster Nathan Redmond was looking lively in the opening stages and responded with a shot at the other end, but the ball went harmlessly over Julian Speroni's crossbar.

Glenn Murray then had three chances to open the scoring shortly before the midway point of the first period when he couldn't quite collect a ball into the box from Mile Jedinak for the first, before shooting wide from the edge of the box 30 seconds later.

And Palace's top goalscorer also saw a looping header go onto the top of the net from Dean Moxey's crossfield pass.

However, Birmingham took the lead thank to a fine finish from Redmond after 24 minutes, but there was a hint of handball from a visiting player in the build-up.

The ball was played in towards Redmond 35-yards out, which Jedinak was a whisker away from intercepting, but the Blues player burst into the box and found the bottom corner with his left foot.

Speroni then pulled off a stunning save to deny Ravel Morrison from a close range effort, but from the resulting corner, Birmingham doubled their lead thanks to an unfortunate own goal from Damien Delaney, who was under pressure from the towering Nicola Zigic.

Selhurst was stunned, and the prospect of going second in the Championship looked a distant way off from reality after Watford had been held to a 3-3 draw against Burnley earlier on.

Kevin Phillips, facing one of his former clubs, nearly got a goal back for the Eagles shortly before the break when a ball was played into him on the edge of the box and as he looked to nip the ball past the onrushing Jack Butland, a Birmingham defender managed to deflect the ball away for a corner.

Palace boss Ian Holloway brought on Stephen Dobbie for Jazz Richards at half-time and moved Dikgacoi to right-back, and the Eagles looked much better in the opening moments of the second period.

Dobbie was denied by a super save from Butland when he picked his spot towards the bottom corner from the edge of the box, before Jedinak headed over from the resulting corner.

And then Dobbie delivered in from the right for Phillips, who nipped in at the back post with the smallest of touches to beat Butland but the ball went agonisingly wide of the far post.

It was a positive start for the hosts, and as everyone knows, the next goal during a 2-0 scoreline is crucial.

However, Birmingham killed the game off with two further goals midway through the half.

The third was scored by Morrison, who placed a low first time shot beyond Speroni from Mitch Hancox's low cross, and they grabbed a fourth five minutes later on 70 minutes thanks to a stunning free-kick from Newcastle United loanee Shane Ferguson.

Substitute Andre Moritz nearly grabbed a consolation when his fierce volley narrowly went wide of Butland's goal, while Dobbie had a couple more efforts but to no avail.

And former Eagle Darren Ambrose came on for Birmingham in the dying moments and got a good reception for the home faithful.

It simply wasn't Palace's day.

The Eagles travel to face Holloway's former club Blackpool on Easter Monday.

Palace: Speroni; Richards (Dobbie 46), Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey; Dikgacoi, Jedinak (c); Bolasie, Williams (Moritz 70), Phillips (Wilbraham 70); Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Ward, Parr.

Attendance: 17,189

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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