Palace run riot over rivals Brighton to return to the top of the Championship
Glenn Murray struck twice in a 3-0 win over 10-man Brighton & Hove Albion to guide Crystal Palace back to the top of the Championship.
The former Brighton striker took his season’s goal tally to 17 in seeing off rivals Albion - who had to play 80 minutes a man short after Lewis Dunk was sent off for a professional foul on man of the match Yannick Bolasie.
Owen Garvan also got on the scoresheet converting his side’s second penalty of the game for 3-0 - his third of the season.
Murray’s return to the side after suspension, at the expense of Jermaine Easter, was boss Ian Holloway’s only change to the side which drew at Hull City in mid-week.
And while the fans traded insults from the start, the match began quietly with Albion happy to slow the play down passing the ball across the back four.
But the game was over as any form of contest with Dunk’s early dismissal when he miss-controlled a pass and brought down the lively Bolasie.
Despite dominating possession, it took Palace until the 38th minute for Murray’s header off Bolasie’s corner to break the deadlock.
After the break, Palace started sloppily and Craig Mackail-Smith should have done better when clear through on Julian Speroni, but the Scottish striker could only hit the post.
Heeding the warning, Palace stepped up the pace and were rewarded when a mix-up on the edge of the Brighton penalty area ended with Murray going round Tomasz Kuszczak, only to be brought down.
The Albion keeper was only booked, but the real punishment came by being sent the wrong way by Murray from the penalty spot for 2-0.
With Palace cruising, Gordon Greer’s inexplicable shove on Murray gifted the Eagles a third penalty which, despite being a chance for Murray to complete his hat-trick, Garvan stepped up to slot past the beleaguered Albion keeper for 3-0 with 20 minutes still on the clock.
However, there were to be no further fireworks but for the cheer form the Selhurst Park faithful at the final whistle.
Reaction to follow