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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
22:22 21st June 2012

Palace missed out on the chance to move into second in the Championship table as they lost 3-0 to Brighton on a day where nothing seemed to go right for Ian Holloway's side.

Three goals in the space of seven minutes either side of half-time proved to be the Eagles undoing with Leonardo Ulloa bagging a brace and a fine free-kick in first half stoppage time from David Lopez ensuring the derby day spoils would be for the home side.

The first quarter of an hour was played in a frenzied atmosphere with both sets of supporters urging their sides on but the action on the pitch failed to match the backing off it as neither team managed a shot in anger.

Indeed the first save of the game was made by Albion's Tomasz Kuszczak from his own player as former Eagle Matthew Upson inadvertently headed a Yannick Bolasie free-kick towards his own goal but the Polish shot-stopper managed to dive low to claw the ball away from danger. 

Jonathan Parr had a great chance to score his first of the season after 24 minutes when Wilfried Zaha ran at the defence and slipped a through-ball into the Norwegian's path but his first time shot was straight at Kuszczak.

After a nervy start Palace were beginning to impose themselves on the game and just after the half-hour mark Glenn Murray got a faint touch onto a Jonny Williams cross but couldn't direct it on target, Bolasie blazed a shot from 20 yards over the bar and Williams himself took aim from a similar distance but it was comfortably dealt with by Kuszczak.

The Eagles had marshalled the Seagulls well until the 43rd minute when they scored with their first shot of the game with a move started and finished by Ulloa. The Argentinian won a flick-on and nodded the ball to Will Buckley and the winger dribbled to the edge of the box before crossing to the back post where Ulloa's scruffy header flicked off his leg past his compatriot Julian Speroni.

And unbelievably it was 2-0 at the break when the home side won a free-kick just outside the box in injury time and David Lopez stepped up to curl and unstoppable free-kick into the top corner and in via the crossbar past the outstretched Speroni to give Albion a healthy lead they scarcely deserved.

Palace had a mountain to climb in the second half and Ian Holloway responded by bringing on Kevin Phillips and Andre Moritz at the interval but Brighton continued to press forward and nearly made an instant impact when Kazenga LuaLua jinked in down the left and played the ball to Buckley who tried a cheeky flick but it fell straight to Speroni.

But they did make it 3-0 five minutes after the restart when a long ball into the box found Buckley and he headed the ball back across the area for the unmarked Ulloa to net his second of the game and put the result beyond doubt.

Things just weren't going right for the visitors and a few misplaced passes in the final third put pay to any chances to pull a goal back, and only a double-save from Speroni prevented the scoreline from getting out of hand when the Palace keeper first saved a one-on-one from Ulloa before blocking Buckley's rebound on 77 minutes.

Aaron Wilbraham and Zaha had late chances to get a consolation but they both missed the target by a large distance before Phillips dragged a shot wide in the 88th minute, but LuaLua almost completed the misery when he saw a curled effort narrowly miss the target as a frustrating afternoon for the Eagles came to its disappointing conclusion.

Brighton: Kuszczak, Greer, Orlandi (Crofts 62), Calderon, Ulloa, Upson, Lopez (Hammond 88), LuaLua, Bridcutt, Bridge, Buckley. Subs not used: Ankergren, Dunk, Rodriguez, Painter, Barker.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Richards, Parr, Bolasie (Phillips 46), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha, Murray, Williams (Moritz 46), Delaney, Ramage (Wilbraham 67). Subs not used: Price, Butterfield, Moxey, Gabbidon.