Brighton blew Crystal Palace away with a brilliant first-half performance as they claimed a 4-1 win over their rivals, whose supporters once again protested against the board.
It was a miserable afternoon on the south coast for Palace, who were without the injured Eberechi Eze, while Michael Olise limped off just minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute.
The game was as good as over at that point thanks to the Seagulls’ sensational opening half, which saw Lewis Dunk head in an early opener.
Two goals in two minutes from Jack Hinshelwood and Facundo Buonanotte stunned the visitors, whose fans responded by unfurling banners against Steve Parish and the rest of the board.
Jean-Phillipe Mateta’s header pulled a goal back for Palace but a brilliant Joao Pedro strike in the final minutes was the cue for many of the away fans to head for the exits. Whether the under-pressure Roy Hodgson follows them remains to be seen.
Brighton: Verbruggen (7), Van Hecke (7), Dunk (8), Igor (7), Hinshelwood (8), Gilmour (7), Gross (8), Lamptey (8), Buonanotte (8), Ferguson (7), Pedro (8).
Subs: Welbeck (7), Baleba (6), Estupinan (6), Fati (n/a), Lallana (n/a).
Crystal Palace: Henderson (5), Munoz (5), Andersen (5), Guehi (6), Mitchell (5), Lerma (6), Richards (5), Hughes (6), Ayew (6), Mateta (7), Schlupp (6).
Subs: Wharton (4), Olise (n/a), Franca (6), Edouard (6), Ahamada (6).
Man of the match: Pascal Gross
How Palace’s trip to the south coast turned ugly
Palace may have been the Premier League’s top spenders during the January window but it took less than 45 minutes for the protests that took place during the 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal last month to be repeated at the Amex.
Daniel Munoz and Adam Wharton, the Eagles’ mid-season signings, both endured difficult debuts, while the Palace supporters appeared to react angrily to the players when approached at full-time.
- Brighton made four changes after being thrashed at Luton last time out, with Bart Verbruggen, Jack Hinshelwood, Tariq Lamptey and Evan Ferguson replacing Jason Steele, James Milner, Pervis Estupinan and Danny Welbeck.
- Crystal Palace were forced into two changes, with Eberechi Eze ruled out and Michael Olise only fit enough for the bench – where he was joined by Adam Wharton – meaning Jeffrey Schlupp and debutant Daniel Munoz came into the XI.
It made for an ugly afternoon for Hodgson’s side, who found themselves behind after less than two minutes when Dunk nodded in Pascal Gross’ corner.
Jack Hinshelwood then guided home a header at the far post after Tariq Lamptey had again bested Munoz, before Wharton lost the ball on the edge of his own box to allow Buonanotte to bend home a third just moments later.
Hodgson – who had already lost captain Marc Guehi to a first-half injury – called for Olise at half-time in a bid to salvage the game.
Speaking about Olise’s return last month, Hodgson talked of the difficulties in managing his star player’s return amid the advice from his medical team, saying he couldn’t run his team “scientifically”.
Unfortunately for Hodgson, his decision backfired, with Olise asking to be replaced less than 10 minutes after coming on with an apparent hamstring injury.
Perhaps it was all too easy for Brighton, who failed to get out of second gear for much of the second half and were eventually punished for their sloppiness when Mateta guided in Joachim Andersen’s cross.
However, Pedro woke his team-mates from their slumber after a fine one-two with Danny Welbeck, finding the bottom corner and ensuring Brighton produced the perfect response to their hammering at Luton in midweek by moving up to seventh, while Palace are 14th and just five points above the relegation zone.
Hodgson: I’ve got the determination to see things through
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: “At the moment our fans aren’t very happy with everything that is happening at the club and they are making their feelings known as well. But I signed up to be the manager and coach of this football club and I’ve got the strength, resilience and determination to see things through. I’m certainly not going to be cowed by that type of thing.”
On Olise’s injury: “I was told he couldn’t start the game, everyone was quite comfortable with that. But they told me, and he told me, he was fine to be on the bench and to play in the second half. Unfortunately I don’t have a crystal ball and I wasn’t to know that would lead to a recurrence of his injury.”
On the players engaging with angry fans after full time: “They are realistic enough to know the fans aren’t going to be happy to see their team lose 4-1 and I think the players did the right thing. No one is less happy than ourselves. At least they went over to thank the fans and let them know we are grateful for their support. If people react, so be it.”
De Zerbi delighted with Brighton’s reaction to Luton loss
Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi: “We are very happy because in a derby we made our fans happy, but I’m not surprised with the reaction we showed.
“Our win started on Tuesday after the Luton game. I’m really pleased with the result, the reaction, the energy.”
Analysis: Where do Palace go from here?
Sky Sports’ Joe Shread at the Amex Stadium:
Crystal Palace are at a crossroads. For so long, mid-table stability, combined with developing a smattering of exciting young players, has been enough for the south Londoners.
Much of that stability has been provided by Steve Parish, whose backing helped to bring the club up from the Championship, and Roy Hodgson, who has done so much across two spells to keep the Eagles in the Premier League.
But now many of the supporters want more. Shorn of Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise for much of the season, Palace have slipped to just five points above the relegation zone, while winning just two of their last 14 games.
Hodgson’s side have conceded nine goals in their last two away games, both of which saw fans turn on Parish and the board.
January’s investment in Adam Wharton and Daniel Munoz doesn’t appear to have placated the fanbase. With Hodgson aged 76 and only having a contract until the end of the season, a change in the dugout is surely coming sooner rather than later.
But what then? Palace only have the 12th-highest net spend over the past five seasons and have been missing arguably their three best players – Eze, Olise and Cheikh Doucoure – for huge chunks of the campaign.
Is it fair to ask them to be achieving any more than they already are? Palace supporters may want to be careful what they wish for.
‘It’s a toxic atmosphere at Palace’
Michael Dawson speaking on Soccer Saturday:
“There were banners and protests. ‘Parish and co, time to go’ was one banner. At the end, you could see the fans’ frustrations. Andersen goes over and confronts it.
“It wasn’t great scenes at the end. It’s doom and gloom at Palace because without Olise and Eze, they’re in a little bit of trouble.
“Toxic atmosphere? Very much so. I don’t feel it, I see it. The fans were trying to get onto the pitch, there were barriers and they were stood on there.
“Andersen, the captain because Guehi went off, he confronted it. Paddy McCarthy, the coach, went over there. You could feel tension and friction between the fans and they’re really not happy.”
Brighton’s next game is at Tottenham in the Premier League on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.
The Seagulls then travel to Sheffield United on February 18, live on Super Sunday; kick-off 2pm.
Crystal Palace are next in action at home to Chelsea in the Premier League on February 12, live on Monday Night Football; kick-off 8pm.
The Eagles then travel to Everton on February 19, live on Monday Night Football; kick-off 8pm.
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