Luka Milivojevic and Jeffrey Schlupp struck as Crystal Palace comfortably defeated Fulham 2-0 at Selhurst Park on Michy Batshuayi’s debut, handing the visitors their fourth loss in five Premier League games.
Captain Milivojevic netted his seventh top-flight goal of the season from the penalty spot midway through the first half.
Even though Palace had to wait for a second, they were in control throughout as Fulham fell to their eighth straight loss in a Premier League London derby and failed build on Tuesday’s 4-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Roy Hodgson had the luxury of leaving deadline-day signing Batshuayi on the bench until the 82nd minute, but the striker still had enough time to play a part in Schlupp’s late clincher, as Palace won for the first time in four league games.
FULL-TIME Crystal Palace 2-0 Fulham
— Premier League (@premierleague) February 2, 2019
Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to take a golden early chance, sending a free header wide from six yards after being found by Joe Bryan’s delivery.
That proved costly when Palace took a 25th-minute lead from the penalty spot. Cyrus Christie’s handball while climbing to challenge Christian Benteke – who made his first start since September – gave Michael Oliver an easy decision, and Milivojevic found the net despite Sergio Rico getting a hand on his effort.
With half-time approaching, Benteke almost marked his return to the team with a goal when he sent an overhead kick off the crossbar having been picked out by Andros Townsend
Rico made key second-half saves from Jordan Ayew and Schlupp, while Mamadou Sakho sent a header off target as Palace sought a deserved second goal.
That arrived with three minutes remaining when Batshuayi drew a fine save from Rico, allowing Schlupp to convert the close-range rebound as Palace cruised to victory, with Fulham failing to register a single shot on target in the contest.
What does it mean? Away woes could relegate Fulham
Fulham slipped to seven points adrift of safety, and their away form needs urgent attention if they are to have any chance of staying up. They have only collected two points from 13 away games in the Premier League this season, while Claudio Ranieri has now gone 21 games on the road as a manager in England’s top flight without winning.
For Palace, it is only their third victory in 12 home league games, but it moves them up to 14th and seven points clear of the drop zone. With Batshuayi still to enter the starting line-up and Wilfried Zaha to return from suspension, there is plenty of reason for optimism.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) February 2, 2019
Milivojevic spot on for Palace
As well as proving a typically reliable presence from the penalty spot, Milivojevic also created three chances for his team-mates and helped Palace to a comfortable win. Townsend and Schlupp impressed on both wings too, while Benteke had a strong first start since September – all good signs with two stars to come into the XI.
Mitrovic misses only chance
Mitrovic has 10 Premier League goals this season, but it should have been 11 when he wasted Fulham’s only clear-cut chance of the match after 11 minutes. All of the team’s woes cannot be placed on his shoulders though, given their creative struggles and failure to work Vicente Guaita at all.
Key Opta Facts
– Palace have done the league double over Fulham for the first time since the 1929-30 season.
– Fulham are the first side in English top-flight history to lose eight consecutive London derby matches.
– Schlupp has scored as many Premier League goals this season (four) as he did in his previous four campaigns combined (99 appearances).
– Since his Premier League debut for Palace, Milivojevic has scored more goals than any other player at the club (19).
Having played Tottenham in the FA Cup last week and met Fulham here, Palace have another home London derby against West Ham next Saturday. Ranieri’s side host Manchester United on the same day, as their difficult battle against the drop continues.
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