By Anthony Hay
Glenn Murray’s double salvo helped Crystal Palace claim an emphatic win over promotion rivals Middlesbrough and stretched their impressive home run to 15 games unbeaten.
Peter Ramage and Kevin Phillips were also among the goalscorers in a 4-1 victory which saw the Eagles move into fourth place in the Championship.
Ian Holloway said on his side’s performance: “I think we are getting stronger. The challenge is can we get another 14 wins.
“You have to aim at the stars. The shape I want and how we do it is there. We just need to do it quicker and stronger.”
England manager Roy Hodgson was in the Selhurst Park crowd to watch Wilfried Zaha terrorise the Middlesbrough defence, and the winger did not disappoint.
Holloway said: “His choice of pass, and weight of pass and the times he used his own full-backs runs to beat somebody was exactly what I inherited when I first got here. I think that’s as good as he’s played for me.
“He is literally as good as any chef I have seen. He can roast people and he’s roasted both their full-backs.”
Holloway decided to make three changes to the side that fought back to claim a point at Watford last Friday, with captain Mile Jedinak, Jonathan Parr and Jonathan Williams all coming into the starting line-up.
Palace opened the scoring in the ninth when Zaha was allowed to tee up Murray, who had the simple task of scoring from close-range.
Murray should have added a second in the 22nd minute when Zaha played a delightful cross to the Championship’s top goalscorer who was unable to hit the target.
Middlesbrough came close to equalising shortly before half-time when Faris Haroun’s effort was cleared off the line by Ramage.
Palace were a different side after the break, and Holloway admitted to being disappointed with the opening 45 minutes.
He said: “I just told the lads ‘Look you are boring me’. It was too slow, it was too laborious. We didn’t move it quick enough. They’ve been doing it all week.
“They looked absolutely fantastic this week. So I have been buzzing and I said ‘Come on I am bored’. I honestly felt that way.
“You have to utterly go for it in this league because anybody can do anything at any given time.”
It was Ramage who doubled Palace’s lead in the 48th minute as he turned in a Murray header to make it two goals in two games for the defender.
Murray sealed the three points just nine minutes later when he hit a left-footed rocket into the top corner of Jason Steele’s goal – leaving the England Under-21 keeper clutching at thin air.
The Teesiders pulled one back with 10 minutes to go through Haroun but his goal proved to be merely a consolation as Phillips scored in the 84th minute to restore Palace’s three-goal advantage.
Holloway will be hoping his side can close the four-point gap on second-placed Hull City when Palace entertain Bristol City tomorrow night (Tuesday).