Crystal Palace 3 Brighton 2: Wilfried Zaha double secures vital win in battle to beat the drop

Zaha scored twice in a crazy five-goal first half to earn a victory which also gives Palace vital breathing space at the bottom of the table.

Albion twice recovered from two goals behind and came close to an equaliser, but deserved to lose because of their earlier poor defending and application.

You can doubt the credibility of the rivalry but there was no questioning the entertainment these sides provided in the first half.

Brighton were sluggish from the start and conceded after five minutes when Luka Milivojevic worked a short corner with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, visiting goalkeeper Mat Ryan could only parry the Serb’s cross-cum-shot and Zaha forced the ball in from less than a yard.

More poor defending from a corner led to the Palace’s second. In a scramble, Ryan was again feeble, James McArthur’s shot was kept out by what looked like a Brighton arm but James Tomkins was on hand to prevent any debate about a penalty.

Former Palace striker Murray gave the visitors a goal they barely deserved, hooking in from close range after Lewis Dunk had headed a Pascal Gross corner goalwards.

But the Albion defence was found wanting yet again when full back Ezequiel Schelotto found himself on the wrong side of Zaha, who timed his run well to head in Milivojevic’s cross.

The first-half goal feast was still not over. Jurgen Locadia played in Jose Izquierdo, who held off Joel Ward and finished superbly to reduce the deficit.

But only a smart stop by Ryan stopped Milivojevic capping his excellent opening 45 minutes by making it 4-2.

The second half, unsurprisingly, could not match what had gone before.

Both managers seemed to have used the break to suggest to their players they might try a bit of defending.

Although Palace remained on top, the visitors were able to keep them at bay and almost nicked an equaliser just after the hour.

Beram Kayal swung in an inviting cross and Murray met it on the volley at the back post, only to watch the ball drift across the goal and just wide.

Southampton’s defeat earlier in the day had already given both clubs increased hope of staying up.

Palace’s win, which lifts them just one point behind Brighton, makes it more likely they can do this all again next season.

Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey kept out a late shot by Dale Stephens and displayed some confident handling before Murray somehow diverted the ball away from goal, instead of towards it, in stoppage time.

So the second half remained goalless, but only just.

Source: Read Full Article