Eagles soar into fifth
Kuqi sets Palace on way to home romp
Last Updated: 08/12/08 10:49pm
Ifill: Clinching third
Crystal Palace have climbed into fifth in the Championship table following a 3-0 victory over lowly Southampton.
Neil Warnock's side did the damage early on, with goals inside the opening 15 minutes from Shefki Kuqi and Craig Beattie putting the Eagles in control.
Saints did their best to get back into the contest, but substitute Paul Ifill settled the game late on after getting the better of Lloyd James before firing home.
Saints, who are just four points above the drop zone, survived a scare in the first minute when Nick Carle burst into the area but left-back Rudi Skacel came across to make a vital challenge.
Referee Darren Deadman waved away Palace's appeals for a penalty, and did the same at the other end when Saints striker David McGoldrick took a theatrical tumble in the area.
Broke the deadlock
But Kuqi broke the deadlock in fine style in the ninth minute when teenage Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne floated the ball into the penalty area.
Saints centre-half Alex Pearce misjudged the flight, allowing Kuqi to control the ball on his chest and volley over Kelvin Davis and into the net.
Six minutes later Beattie doubled Palace's lead with a powerful angled drive after Jose Fonte had helped John Oster's corner into his path.
Saints did manage to stem the flow, though, and eventually began to dominate possession after Palace lost midfielder Ben Watson to injury.
Jan Poortvliet's young side play plenty of pretty football but a lack of end product could yet prove their downfall this season.
Bradley Wright-Phillips had a shot blocked by Fonte before Jordan Robertson forced Julian Speroni to tip his shot around the post as the interval approached.
After the break, Saints' England Under-21 midfielder Andrew Surman drove narrowly wide from 25 yards.
But wily Palace were content to let their visitors keep the ball while limiting them to long-range efforts.
Kuqi could have added a third, and another few pounds onto his transfer value, but the big Finn skied his effort high and wide.
But the third goal did arrive in the 75th minute when James failed to control a high ball and substitute Ifill nipped in to fire past Davis.
Sky Bet Championship
|19||Brighton and Hove Albion||27||29|