Phillips hat-trick stuns Hull to boost Crystal Palace’s promotion hopes
22:03 05 March 2013
Championship: Crystal Palace 4 Hull 2
Kevin Phillips’ remarkable rapid-fire hat-trick helped Crystal Palace to a thumping win over promotion rivals Hull City and gave their Premier League hopes a huge boost.
The 39-year-old - on his first start for the south Londoners - scored a controversial penalty just before the break after Glenn Murray had missed with an earlier spot kick, and he added his second and third goals in the space of minute not long after half time.
Jay Simpson pulled one back for the visitors but Manchester United-bound winger Wilfried Zaha capped a dazzling performance with a dinked finish for Palace’s fourth in the 77th-minute.
David Meyler headed a late second for Hull but it was far too late to spoil Palace’s night.
The result lifts the Eagles to just one point behind Hull two points behind second-placed Watford as the chase for automotive promotion hots up.
It also made for a miserable Selhurst Park return for Hull boss Steve Bruce, who had a short stint as Palace manager before moving to Birmingham back in 2001.
It remains to be seen whether the evergreen Phillips will stay at Palace beyond the end of this season, but if they do achieve promotion, tonight’s brilliant treble will not be forgotten.
Phillips was one of three changes from Palace’s 1-0 win at Derby County, as Ian Holloway also started Jacob Butterfield and youngster Jonny Williams in midfield. Kagisho Dikgacoi, meanwhile, dropped into the unfamiliar role of right-back.
The match started at a frantic pace and after Hull’s George Boyd was almost put through on goal inside the first minute, the hosts went close themselves.
A Butterfield set piece caused mayhem in the Hull box and after Peter Ramage saw his low effort scrambled off the line, Phillips pulled his shot wide from eight yards.
It was a let-off for Hull and they got lucky with second goalmouth scramble 10 minutes later after a driving run and low cross from Wilfried Zaha.
The hosts were on top and the pressure paid off on the half-hour mark when the excellent Williams was bundled over by David Meyler.
Murray stepped up looking for goal number 29 of the season, but his powerful spot kick was brilliantly saved by Hull keeper David Stockdale diving to his right.
Hull striker Robert Koren hit a diagonal shot narrowly over from outside the box moments later but the visitors rarely threatened in the first period.
Then came Palace’s second penalty, as the linesman controversially flagged for a handball after Jack Hobbs had thrown himself at Murray’s fierce shot in the box.
Hobbs was little more than three feet away from Murray when he made the block but referee Mark Haywood pointed to the spot as yellow shirts swarmed around the officials.
This time Phillips showed Murray how it was done. Stockdale got an arm to the striker’s blast but it was too powerful for the Fulham loanee and bounced into the net.
That stroke of luck sent the Eagles into half-time on a high and they emerged from the break in the same frame of mind.
Zaha burst free on the right after 52 minutes and his low cross bounced past Murray to Phillips, whose slightly scuffed shot bounced past Stockdale and nestled in the corner.
Selhurst Park was still bouncing when Phillips struck his third, this time his effort from 25-yards took a slight deflection on its way in.
Palace were on the rampage and Phillips looked to have killed the contest in the space of nine minutes.
Zaha missed a good chance from a narrow angle before Hull pulled a goal back out of nothing when substitute Simpson directed a looping header over Julian Speroni from Ahmed Elmohamady’s cross after 73 minutes.
But any hope of a comeback was quickly shattered when Zaha’s sensational performance got the goal it deserved.
The 20-year-old collected Murray’s through ball and prodded over Stockdale from an acute angle after charging into the area from the right flank.
Substitutes Yannick Bolasie and Stephen Dobbie both went close to a fifth as the hosts continue to overrun their prey in the final 10 minutes.
The Tigers hit back with a late consolation goal when Meyler headed home Robbie Brady’s free kick but it came too late to put a dampener on Palace’s party.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Dikgacoi, Ramage, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Butterfield (Dobbie 77), Zaha, Phillips (Bolasie 77), Williams (Parr 64), Murray. Subs not used: Price, Marrow, Wilbraham, Moritz
Hull: Stockdale, Chester, Hobbs, Koren (c), Gedo, Elmohamady, Bruce, Quinn, Brady, Meyler, Boyd. Subs not used: Jakupovic, Evans, Simpson, McShane, Fahti, Faye, Proschwitz