Boro can't stop Eagles' rise
Sat 16th Feb 3pm
Middlesbrough's dreadful record since the turn of the year continued as they were crushed 4-1 by promotion rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Glenn Murray earned the home side an early lead and Peter Ramage increased it straight after the break. Murray then added a third until Faris Haroun replied from substitute Ishmael Miller's pass.
But the Eagles still had the last laugh with former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips netting a deflected goal with six minutes remaining.
Boro's on loan midfielder Josh McEachran forced the first save from Argentine goalkeeper Julian Speroni before a dreadful attempted clearance from Haroun allowed Wilfried Zaha to set up Murray for an easy opener on nine minutes.
Goalscorer Murray soon headed another opportunity over and Jason Steele fended away from Stephen Dobbie, who then struck narrowly wide following a misplaced clearance from the England Under-21 international goalkeeper.
The visitors themselves went close as Haroun knocked back a Mustapha Carayol cross and Ramage headed away from the line before McEachran blazed over after Lukaz Jutkiewicz miskicked from another Haroun delivery.
However, Palace went further in front at the start of the second-half with Ramage turning in a low shot following Murray heading down Dobbie's corner.
Then with injured defender Stuart Parnaby off the pitch and about to be replaced by Kieron Dyer, the hosts went further into the lead courtesy of Murray curling a superb finish into the top corner.
Boro finally managed a goal back with ten minutes remaining through Haroun's low drive from a neat Miller assist, only for veteran substitute Phillips to immediately latch onto an excellent Zaha through ball and complete the scoring.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Delaney, Ramage, Richards, Parr, Dikgacoi (Butterfield 76), Jedinak, Williams (K. Phillips 70), Dobbie (Bolasie 81), Zaha, Murray
subs (unused): Price, Moxey, O'Keefe, Wilbraham
Goals: Murray (9, 57), Ramage (48), K. Phillips (84)
Middlesbrough: Steele, Parnaby (Dyer 58), Bikey, Friend, Halliday, Leadbitter, R. Williams, McEachran (Miller 60), Haroun, Jutkiewicz (Bailey 59), Carayol
subs (unused): Leutwiler, McManus, Emnes, Ledesma
Goals: Haroun (80)