Crystal Palace 4 Middlesbrough 1: Zaha puts on show for England boss Hodgson
17:35 GMT, 16 February 2013
19:04 GMT, 16 February 2013
Glenn Murray took his goals tally to 27 for the season with a brace as Crystal Palace maintained their promotion push by brushing aside Middlesbrough.
But it was Wilfried Zaha who stole the show again as the Manchester United-bound winger turned in a man of the match performance in front of England manager Roy Hodgson.
Pointing the way: Glenn Murray scored twice as Crystal Palace beat Middlesbrough 4-1 at Selhurst Park to maintain their strong promotion challenge
Star man: Murray (right) took his season goal tally to 27 with a brace
Crystal Palace 4 Middlesbrough 1
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Richards, Delaney, Ramage, Parr, Zaha, Jedinak, Dikgacoi (Butterfield 76), Williams (K Phillips 70), Dobbie (Bolasie 81), Murray
Substitutes: Price, Wilbraham, Moxey, O'Keefe
Scorers: Murray 9, 57; Ramage 48, K Phillips 84
Middlesbrough: Steele, Parnaby (Dyer 58), Bikey, Friend, Halliday, McEachran (Miller 60), Leadbitter, Rhys Williams, Haroun, Jutkiewicz (Bailey 59), Carayol
Substitutes: Leutwiler, McManus, Emnes, Ledesma
Scorer: Haroun 80
Referee: Oliver Langford (W Midlands)
Attendance: 17, 213
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Afterwards Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway said: 'In front of the England manager, I thought Wilf was excellent.
We have a few who make a difference. He is one of them. This was as good as he has played since I have been here.
'He is literally as good as any chef I have seen. And he has roasted their full-backs all day and they will be glad to see the back of him.'
He added: 'I thought we moved the ball too slowly in the first half and told them that at half-time.
'I told them they were boring me.
'We upped the pace of doing things.
'We are getting stronger and the challenge is, can we get another 14 of them (wins) That would be good, wouldn't it We have to aim for the stars.'
Former Brighton forward Murray opened
the scoring early on, but missed two more chances to complete a
first-half hat-trick as Palace struggled to make their dominance count.
just after the interval, Murray set up Peter Ramage to double his
side's advantage before the in-form striker's spectacular drive and
Kevin Phillips' effort ensured Palace extended their unbeaten league run
at Selhurst Park to 15 matches.
Faris Haroun netted a late consolation when Boro were three down and the visitors are clinging on to the final npower Championship play-off place after a fifth consecutive away league defeat.
Boro had the first effort on goal in the fourth minute when on-loan Chelsea midfielder Josh McEachran brought a fine save from Julian Speroni.
But it was Palace who broke the deadlock just five minutes later when Wilfried Zaha, with England manager Roy Hodgson watching on, beat a couple of defenders and delivered a cross that Murray converted from close range.
The Palace pair almost combined again midway through the half, but Murray failed to get a touch to the lively England international's cross before heading over the top.
The home side's dominance continued as Damien Delaney fluffed his lines from a well worked corner before George Friend's excellent tackle denied Murray a clear run on goal.
Stephen Dobbie, signed on loan from Championship rivals Brighton last month, almost opened his Palace account on the half-hour, half-volleying goalkeeper Jason Steele's clearance just wide from 35 yards.
Boro almost got back on level terms against the run of play, though, with Ramage having to spectacularly clear Haroun's effort off the line after Speroni was beaten.
McEachran ended the half as he started it with a shot at goal, but this time he fired wide.
Hard to stop: Murray is challenged by Middlesbrough players Faris Haroun (left) and Andrew Halliday
On the attack: Wilfried Zaha carries Palace forward
Foot in: Middlesbrough's George Friend beats Kagisho Dikgacoi to the ball
Palace finally got their second three minutes after half-time when Murray's header across goal was taken down on the chest by Ramage, who then hooked the ball into the net.
And things got better for Palace when Murray unleashed a left-foot rocket into the top corner nine minutes later.
Dobbie failed to connect with Murray's cross before the former Swansea midfielder let Boro off the hook by opting to shoot rather than pass in a promising position.
Hurdle: Murray skips over the challenge of George Friend
Taking a fall: Lukas Jutkiewicz wins the ball from Palace players Peter Ramage and Jazz Richards
The Mask: Palace captain Mike Jedinak took to the field in protective head gear
Boro were restricted to long-range efforts as Speroni saved shots from Andrew Halliday and Mustapha Carayol.
However, they pulled a goal back 10 minutes from time when Haroun took on Ishmael Miller's flick and slotted under Speroni.
Substitute Phillips' clever back heel was saved by Steele before the veteran forward got his goal, coolly finishing Zaha's through-ball in the 84th minute.