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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:22 21st June 2012


Palace proved their promotion credentials by producing a four goal display and dominant performance to crush fellow Premier League hopefuls Middlesbrough 4-1 at Selhurst Park.

Two goals for Glenn Murray and a second in successive games for Peter Ramage had given the Eagles a healthy lead, and despite the visitors grabbing a consolation substitute Kevin Phillips wrapped up the game with five minutes to go as the Eagles begin to string together positive results at the right time of the season. 

Having seen his side fall behind early on in games recently and stressing the importance of starting games better, Ian Holloway would have been delighted to see Palace take the lead after just eight minutes. 

In front of the watching Roy Hodgson, Wilfried Zaha took on the Middlesbrough defence and got to the byline, and his centre took a slight nick off George Friend before the master poacher Murray was on hand to notch his 25th league goal of the season from two yards out.

Both players were in fine form and their partnership was reaping rewards as Boro struggled to contain the Eagles going forward. Midway through the first-half the duo combined twice in quick succession; firstly Zaha's cross just eluded Murray at the back post before seconds later the striker did get his head to another cross but saw his effort narrowly loop over the bar. 

Another player who was causing Tony Mowbray's defence problems was Stephen Dobbie, and he nearly capitalised on a poor clearance from Jason Steele when he fired a half volley towards goal with the keeper stranded but it curled in the wrong direction past the post, but the Eagles were thankful to Ramage for keeping their lead intact when he headed off the line from Faris Haroun's shot from a tight angle as the visitors embarked on a rare foray forward.

The final act of the first-half saw McEachran spurn a great chance to equalise when he received the ball in space in the area but blazed wildly over but Palace would have been slightly aggrieved not to be leading by a bigger margin at the break.

Having started the first half well, Palace began the second 45 even better and some neat play between Jonny Williams and Zaha earned an early corner. Dobbie swung it over towards Murray who nodded it into the path of Ramage, and the defender showed a striker's instinct to swivel and shoot past Steele to net for the second game in succession and establish the lead the Eagles merited.

And the win was secured on 57 minutes when Kagisho Dikgacoi did brilliantly to win the ball back on the ground and played in Murray who scored an absolute pearler by taking a touch before whipping the ball into the top corner from 25 yards to leave Steele clutching thin air.

Middlesbrough finally tested Speroni with 13 minutes to play when Mustapha Carayol let fly from long range but the Argentine shot-stopper managed to get down low to push it away, but they did get a consolation two minutes later when Ishmael Milller cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Haroun to burst behind the defence and slip the ball through Speroni's legs.

Substitute Jacob Butterfield nearly scored his first for the club when he shot just wide after being given too much time by a woeful Boro defence, but it was another man from the bench that grabbed the fourth on 84 minutes when Zaha's through-ball found Phillips, and lacking the pace to beat Friend he switched the ball onto his left foot to find a yard of space before drilling the ball past Steele to round off an emphatic result.

Palace: Speroni; Richards, Ramage, Delaney, Parr; Jedinak (c), Dikgacoi (Butterfield 75), Zaha, Dobbie (Bolasie 80), Williams (Phillips 70), Murray. Subs not used: Price, Wilbraham, Moxey, O'Keefe

Boro: Steele, Bikey, Williams (c), Jutkiewicz (Miller 57), Friend, Haroun, Leadbitter, Halliday, Parnaby (Dyer 55), McEachran (Bailey 57), Carayol. Subs not used: Leutwiler, McManus, Ledesma, Emnes