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Saturday, December 1, 2012
Championship: Crystal Palace 3 Brighton 0
Crystal Palace returned to the top of the npower Championship after beating Brighton and Hove Albion in a hotly-contested derby at Selhurst Park.
Glenn Murray’s 16th and 17th goals of the season and a penalty from Owen Garvan secured a comfortable win for the Eagles in a match that turned on the early sending off of centre back Lewis Dunk after just five minutes.
The sides were evenly matched in the first half, Brighton started like a team coming off a seven game unbeaten run, passing the ball comfortably on the floor, while Palace were keen to make up for recent disappointing results.
But the south coast’s side game plan was disrupted after Dunk was sent off after clearly bringing down Palace wide man Yannick Bolasie on the edge of the penalty area.
Owen Garvan’s resulting free kick clipped the cross bar and went over but the away side looked shellshocked by the early sending off.
The momentary switch to a back three left them open on the left, leaving plenty of space for Wilfried Zaha and Joel Ward to exploit.
Bolasie also continued to torment his opposite number Bruno Soltar and was involved in some neat interchanges with Owen Garvan, occupying his usual advanced centre midfield position.
Gus Poyet could be seen on the touchline attempting to encourage Dean Hammond and Calderon in midfield to press the ball more but his side, who he recently described as ‘unbelievable’, merely sat deeper and deeper.
Accepting the invitation, the home side started to play a bit more directly, with captain Mile Jedinak aiming for widemen Zaha and Bolasie with every first ball.
Liam Bridcutt and Inigo Calderon were virtually anonymous as an attacking threat and Palace keeper Julian Speroni was not called into action until the 22nd minute, gathering a cross from Liam Bridcutt which was aimed for Ashley Barnes.
Minutes later, Bolasie, who was enjoying plenty of space on the edge of the box, went close with a shot that was deflected for a corner.
Jonathan Parr was also getting some joy down the right and was able to thread balls through to Bolasie, who returned the ball to the left back. He then put it across the face of goal to Kagisho Dikcagoi who hit it straight at Thomas Kuszczak.
The pressure was building and sure enough Zaha managed to befuddle Andreas Orlandi on the left into giving away a free kick. Zaha’s delivery was deflected for a corner, and Bolasie’s resulting set piece powered home by Glenn Murray against his former club on 38 minutes.
Poyet clearly had words with his team and they made an excellent start to the second half. Their first and clearest opportunity of the game coming after Zaha lost possession to Barnes on the halfway line.
He sent his strike partner Craig Makhail-Smith clear but he could only hit the post.
The away side continued to force the issue and won a free kick 25 yards out. Bridcutt’s daisy cutter was collected by Jedinak who promptly gave the ball away on the counter.
An injured Ward went off and was replaced by Moritz and what appeared to be an attacking change by Ian Holloway. The midfielder is capable of carving defences open and his presence sparked a renewed attacking threat from the home side.
Brighton fell back into their old habits and fell deeper once again. Bolasie started to torment the away side and was brought down on the edge of the penalty area in the 55th minute.
His pleas for a free kick fell on deaf ears but in the ensuing melee, the ball ran free and found its way to Murray, who was brought down by Kuszcak for a penalty, dispatched by Murray against his former club.
A newly emboldened Palace re-asserted their dominance, mainly through the excellent Bolasie, who sent over a cross which probably should have resulted in another goal for Glenn Murray. The striker instead headed it over the bar.
Palace’s second penalty was needlessly given away by Brighton. Defender Gordon Greer brought Murray down at the near right-hand post. Charitably, Murray opted to leave penalty duty to Owen Garvan, who slotted homein the 70th minute to make it 3-0 and kill the game as a contest.
The away side refused to wilt and restricted Palace to a limited number of chances, but were unable to show any attacking threat themselves. Dikgachoi picking up Palace’s only booking after a foul on Bridcutt.
Speroni was called into action about minutes from time after an overhead kick from Makhail Smith but the away side showed little in the way of attacking threat in a way that they had not since they went down to 10 men.