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Brighton 3-0 Palace: Eagles suffer south coast misery

CRYSTAL Palace threw away a fantastic opportunity to go second in the Championship this afternoon as they were put to the sword by bitter rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Eagles actually had the better of the first period but they were undone in the final five minutes off the half as the hosts scored a quickfire double, including a brilliant free-kick from David Lopez.

The match began at a ferocious pace as expected, but with the ball zipping around on a slick surface, both teams made mistakes with mis-controlled passes. You can see more pictures online here

Will Buckley provided the first dangerous ball of the match into the box but Peter Ramage was on hand to clear after defensive partner Damien Delaney missed his clearance, while at the other end, Yannick Bolasie delivered a good ball in from the left but Tomasz Kuszczak gathered well.

The hosts looked to have been edging thing but Palace started to up their game and nearly took the lead after 21 minutes when Bolasie sent in a dangerous free-kick which Matthew Upson headed towards his own goal, but Kuszczak got down brilliantly with a low stop.

And the Eagles should have taken the lead two minutes later when Zaha played a great ball into Jonathan Parr, but the advancing defender shot straight at the Polish keeper. Either side of him and it would have been in.

Former Albion forward Glenn Murray then got a nasty whack to the head after defending a free-kick, while he went close to opening the scoring with a header at the other end but it went yards wide.

Bolasie then screwed a shot well wide, while Williams took aim from outside the box after getting away from his marker down the middle but Kuszczak got down to hold with ease.

However, the hosts took the lead on 43 minutes thanks to Leonardo Ulloa. Buckley got down the right and delivered a ball to the back post for the striker to head home via a deflection.

And they doubled their lead in added-on time before the break thanks to a stunning free-kick from David Lopez.

Kagisho Dikgacoi had committed a foul on Buckley on the edge of the box, leaving the winger to curl the ball over the wall and off the underside of the bar.

Julian Speroni had no chance and Brighton were rocking.

Palace boss Ian Holloway made a double substitution at the break with Andre Moritz and Kevin Phillips coming on for Bolasie and Williams.

But just minutes into the second period, Brighton grabbed their third of the afternoon after some woeful defending from the Eagles.

Liam Bridcutt delivered a ball to the back post for Orlandi, who headed back across goal to an unmarked Ulloa, who had all the time in the world to volley low past Speroni.

And with a number of decisions going against them from the referee, it wasn't turning out to be Palace's day.

You can see more pictures online here Moritz drove a shot narrowly over from outside the box as the Eagles looked for a quick response, and even with two men up front, you couldn't see where the next chance was going to come, let alone a goal.

Midway through the half, Holloway had no nothing to lose as he sent Aaron Wilbraham on for Ramage with three-man forward line, with Jedinak moving to centre-back and Dikgacoi partnering Moritz in central midfield.

Brighton may have added a fourth after a quick breakway following a Palace corner when Ulloa ran towards goal and forced a Speroni into a save, and with the ball falling to Buckley on the edge of the box, he got up brilliantly to deny the winger.

Parr sent in a delightful cross on 82 minutes from the left, but despite having three strikers on the pitch, not one was on hand to challenge for the ball.

And the defender sent in another great delivery shortly after which Phillips just missed with his head, but the ball fell to Zaha, who volleyed well wide with a first time effort.

Phillips saw an effort go wide of the target soon after, while Brighton closed the game down by sending holding midfielder Dean Hammond.

However, it wasn't to be Palace's day as the referee ended their misery with the final whistle.

Palace: Speroni, Richards, Parr, Ramage (Wilbraham 68), Delaney, Dikgacoi, Jedinak (c), Williams (Moritz 46), Bolasie (Phillips 46), Zaha, Murray.

Subs Not Used: Price, Butterfield, Gabbidon.

Attendance: 28,499 (2641 Palace fans)

Brighton 3-0 Palace: Eagles suffer south coast misery

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