Palace slump to heavy Brighton defeat
Crystal Palace missed the chance to go second in the Championship as they fell to a 3-0 derby defeat at Brighton.
The Eagles knew they would have gone into the automatic promotion places with victory but were blown away by a three-goal blitz either side of half-time.
Jonathan Parr should have put Palace ahead when the scores were level and it was a miss the Eagles were left to regret as they failed to trouble Tomasz Kuszczak in the second half despite playing with four forwards.
Brighton dominated possession early on but it as Palace who created the best chances of the opening 40 minutes.
Kuszczak had to prevent an own goal when Matt Upson’s headed Yannick Bolasie’s free kick toward his own net and Parr should have done better than shoot straight at the keeper when Wilfried Zaha put him through.
Zaha was causing Brighton problems but was getting visibly upset with team-mates as his passes went awry.
At the other end, Will Buckley was hugging the right touchline and terrorising Parr. Eventually, it was that that brought the breakthrough with two goals in as many minutes before the break.
First Buckley was once more released and given time to cross for Ulloa to head home via a defender’s back at the back post.
Two minutes later, Buckley weaved in from the right and was unceremoniously brought down by Kagisho Dikgacoi, who went in the book. That wasn’t the end of the punishment though as David Lopez brilliantly curled the free kick into the top corner.
Palace were shell-shocked and Ian Holloway made a double substitution at half time by bringing on Kevin Phillips and Andre Moritz for Yannick Bolasie and Jonny Williams.
The changes couldn’t stem the tide though and it was soon 3-0. Liam Bridcutt’s chipped ball to the back post was headed back in by Andrea Orlandi and Ulloa had all the time in the world to volley in his second.
Palace tried to start a comeback and even went 4-2-4 when Aaron Wilbraham came on for Peter Ramage but apart from a Moritz shot over the bar they offered little.
It was Brighton that could have scored more as Julian Speroni produced a double save to keep out Ulloa and Buckley after Dikgacoi gave the ball away in midfield.
Zaha side-footed a chance wide but it was not going to be Palace’s day and they go into the two-week international break on the back of a demoralising defeat.