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Palace 3-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers: Moritz gets his free-kicks out for the lads

CRYSTAL Palace made a fantastic start to the new year with a deserved 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers this afternoon.

Wilfried Zaha and Andre Moritz were in top form for the Eagles in front of more than 17,000 supporters at Selhurst Park, which saw the latter grab a brace from carbon copy free-kicks in both halves.

And Yannick Bolasie also found the scoresheet with yet another scintillating display.

Palace started brightly with Glenn Murray having a couple of chances early on, but it was the visitors who went closest after just nine minutes when midfielder David Davis found space through the middle and smacked the crossbar with a thunderous drive.

Goalkeeper Julian Speroni was well beaten, and as the ball came back out, Bakary Sako fired way over from the left side of the box.

Yannick Bolasie had the next effort with a fierce volley narrowly over the bar following a corner, while Murray shot well wide with a first time effort from Bolasie's flick-on.

But the move of the match came midway through the first period when Jonathan Parr and Wilfried Zaha combined superbly down the right, which saw Parr burst into the box and cut the ball back to his team-mate, who curled the ball just over the bar.

And Zaha went close again soon after when managed to control a high ball into his path inside the box before angling a shot towards goal, but Wolves defender Roger Johnson was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

However, the Eagles deservedly took the lead just after the half-hour mark thanks to Andre Moritz.

Standing over the ball 20-yards out, the Brazilian curled a fantastIc free-kick over the Wolves wall and into the top corner to beat goalkeeper Carl Ikeme.

Wolves looked for an instant response as Sylvan Ebanks-Blake found space inside the Palace box before shooting low at Speroni, but the stopper collected with ease.

Ian Holloway's side continued to ask the questions and they grabbed their second of the afternoon shortly before break when Zaha burst through the middle and managed to play in Bolasie to his left, who entered the box and prodded home past Ikeme.

Danny Gabbidon was replaced by Aaron Martin at half-time, but it took just minutes for Palace to extend their lead through Moritz again.

In a very similar position to his first free-kick, the attacking midfielder curled the ball over the wall with another set-piece and beat the flat-footed Ikeme for number three.

Moritz nearly grabbed his hat-trick soon after with an attempted scissor kick inside the box from Parr's pinpoint delivery, while Zaha caused havoc once more with another low cross, but it was cut out by the Wolves defence from close range.

Ebanks-Blake hit the side netting in a rare visitors attack, while both Murray and Johnson picked up yellow cards for a scuffle over by the Arthur Wait Stand.

However, Ebanks-Blake gave Wolves a lifeline on 75 minutes when he finished low from inside the box following a free-kick from substitute Jamie O'Hara.

The Eagles nearly grabbed a fourth when Murray did well to beat Christophe Berra down the right, but the striker played the ball across the six-yard box and none of his team-mates were quite on hand to convert.

Holloway's men continued to dominate the final stages of the match, which saw Bolasie cause more confusion before being substituted for Stuart O'Keefe to a standing ovation.

And they held on comfortably to kick-off 2013 with a bang, which also sees them move back up into third in the Championship before Saturday's FA Cup clash against Stoke City.

Palace: Speroni, Parr, Moxey, Ramage, Gabbidon (Martin 46), Dikgacoi, Jedinak (c), Moritz (Williams 80), Bolasie (O'Keefe 90), Zaha, Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Wright, Appiah, Easter.

Attendance: 17,453

By Croydon Advertiser Sports Reporter Mark Ritson

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