Crystal Palace moved away from the Premier League relegation zone with a thrilling victory over rivals Brighton.
Crystal Palace moved away from the Premier League relegation zone with a thrilling victory over rivals Brighton, who have now picked up just one point from their last four matches and are in danger of slipping into trouble.
Roy Hodgson made just one change from last weekend's draw at Bournemouth, bringing in Joel Ward for Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Beram Kayal was handed a recall to the Brighton side in place of the suspended Davy Propper, and Jurgen Locadia replaced Solly March.
Palace were fastest out of the traps and took the lead within five minutes. A short corner from Luka Milivojevic was returned to him by Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Matt Ryan couldn't get enough on Milivojevic's shot. He only managed to slow it down, and Wilfried Zaha was on hand to give the Eagles the perfect start.
Palace kept up the pressure and Andros Townsend tested Ryan after a corner was half cleared. From the resulting corner, Brighton produced some desperate defending to try and keep the ball out, but eventually James Tomkins' shot found a way through and into the back of the net.
Brighton looked like they could be on the end of a thrashing, but from their very first significant chance they halved the deficit. From a corner, Lewis Dunk's goalwards header was turned in by the Seagulls' leading scorer Glenn Murray to give the visitors some hope.
That hope was almost immediately dashed as the crazy start to the game continued. Milivojevic floated a cross into the box, and as Brighton defenders looked for a flag that never came, Zaha rose above Ezequiel Schelotto to head in and restore the two-goal advantage.
For the neutral, this was turning into one of the games of the season. Brighton got themselves back into it again with a simple but finely-crafted goal. Jurgen Locadia produced a neat through ball to Jose Izquierdo and the Colombian took his time before picking his spot and burying it in the bottom corner.
Ryan was forced into a decent save to deny Milivojevic on the stroke of half time as Palace pushed for a fourth. A brilliant first half came to an end and Selhurst Park rose to applaud a superb Palace performance, but Roy Hodgson might have been frustrated that his side were only one goal ahead.
Palace continued to dominate possession after half time, but the first big chance of the second period fell to Brighton. Kayal whipped in a teasing cross which Murray stretched to divert goalwards, but he couldn't test Wayne Hennessey.
Brighton produced a swift counter attack which looked promising, but Patrick van Aanholt managed to snuff it out. He then dwelt on the ball for too long and allowed Izquierdo to reiginite the attack. The ball ran to Murray, whose low drive was heroically blocked by Mamadou Sakho.
The Seagulls were really starting to put the pressure on in their search for an equalizer, and Hennessey had to be alert to push away a dipping effort from Dale Stephens. In injury time a huge opportunity fell to Murray in the box, but he fail to control the ball and the chance got away.
It was to be the last chance as Palace held on for a hugely important victory which moves them six points clear of danger. They are now just one behind Brighton, who must be starting to get nervous as they face a very difficult run-in.