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Crystal Palace 3-0 Derby County
CRYSTAL Palace retained top spot in the Championship after a convincing victory over Derby County at Selhurst Park this afternoon.
Glenn Murray’s 12th minute header put the Eagles on their way to extending their unbeaten run to 14 matches.
Andre Moritz doubled the home side’s advantage in the 58th minute before Murray grabbed his second of the afternoon late on to complete the scoring.
The only change to the starting XI from last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Peterborough saw Moritz come in and Owen Garvan dropped to the bench.
Moritz did well to break clear and only a crucial block by Richard Keogh prevented the in-form striker from testing Rams keeper Adam Legzdins.
Derby went close at the other end moments later as Connor Sammon applied a touch to Michael Jacobs’ delivery but his effort went just wide of the target.
But it was Palace who broke the deadlock in the 12th minute as Murray rose majestically to meet Yannick Bolasie’s corner and head home past Legzdins from close range.
The Eagles went close again from another corner 11 minutes later, this time as Mile Jedinak glancing his header wide after Moritz swung the corner in from the other side.
Wilfried Zaha had a penalty claim ignored after running into Gareth Roberts, the correct decision judging by the televised replays.
Roberts was yellow carded for a trip on Zaha out wide on the right and both sets of players exchanged pushes inside the area before the free-kick could be taken.
When the free-kick was finally taken it took two deflections off Jake Buxton and Keogh before going behind for a corner.
Moritz saw a low shot from just well saved by Legzdins as Palace continued to press for a second.
Murray flicked the ball kindly into the path of Kagisho Dikgacoi three minutes before the break but his volley flew wildly over the bar.
The Eagles went in at the interval with their one-goal lead intact but they could rightly feel aggrieved not to have added that second goal to reflect their dominance.
They could have got it just after the restart when Moritz blazed a shot over the bar from six yards after being picked out by Zaha.
Bolasie shot straight at Legzdins after Murray had headed the ball into his path before Palace got their deserved second on 58 minutes.
Damien Delaney’s pass picked out Murray, whose header played in Moritz and the Brazilian smashed a volleyed effort past Legzdins in front of the Holmesdale.
Murray and Dikgacoi both has chances to add a third after winning a couple of corners in quick succession.
Derby made a change on 74 minutes by taking off Sammon for ex-Millwall striker Theo Robinson.
Moritz was unlucky to see a 20 yard effort go inches wide of the post seconds before he was replaced by Garvan.
But it was Murray who made the game safe in the 82nd minute, picking up possession just inside the Derby half and bursting into the box before drilling a shot past Legzdins.
Speroni was called into action late on to tip over Will Hughes’ shot before Murray and Bolasie made way for Aaron Wilbraham and Jermaine Easter.
There was to be no further goals but by this stage the game was more than safe as Palace underlined exactly why they are in pole position in the Championship table.
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Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Delaney, Ramage, Parr, Bolasie (Easter 89), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha, Moritz (Garvan 75), Murray (Wilbraham 89). Subs not used: Price, Blake, Moxey, O'Keefe. Att: 16,211.