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 Saturday, 26 October, 2002, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
C Palace 5-0 Brighton

Steve Coppell suffered a humiliating return to Selhurst Park as Andy Johnson's hat-trick helped condemn 10-man Brighton to a 12th consecutive defeat.

The scoreline was a bitter pill for the 4,500 Brighton fans who travelled up from the south coast for this eagerly awaited clash with their arch-rivals.

The kick-off was delayed because of congestion and Brighton fans clashed with police before and after the match as they were herded to and from local stations.

Coppell, who has managed Palace four times, received a tremendous ovation from the Eagles supporters at the start of the game.

But his day soon turned sour when Johnson opened the scoring after just three minutes.

Julian Gray's fourth corner in quick succession caused havoc in the Albion penalty area and Johnson made no mistake from close range.

Tony Popovic had a goal ruled out for a foul, but Johnson doubled Palace's lead before half-time with a flying header from Gray's accurate cross.

Palace extended their advantage six minutes into the second half when Johnson was brought down by Danny Cullip and Dougie Freedman converted the penalty.

Four minutes later Johnson completed his hat-trick with the second penalty of the game.

Paul Brooker was shown the red card after bringing down Johnson, who picked himself up to bury the spot-kick.

Palace's best goal of the game arrived two minutes through Gray, who rounded off an inspired afternoon by waltzing through a static defence before rifling home from a narrow angle.

The win was crucial for under-fire Palace manager Trevor Francis whose side had not registered a league victory in six attempts.

Apart from a couple of speculative long-range strikes from Bobby Zamora, Brighton rarely threatened and remain rooted to the foot of the Division One table with just four points.


Crystal Palace: Kolinko, Granville, Butterfield, Popovic, Powell, Mullins, Derry, Gray, Routledge, Johnson, Freedman. Subs: Michopoulos, Riihilahti, Black, Rubins, Adebola.

Brighton: Kuipers, Watson, Mayo, Cullip, Blackwell, Hart, Oatway, Brooker, Carpenter, Zamora, Barrett. Subs: Keeley, Rogers, Marney, Hinshelwood, Rodger.

Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire)

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 Palace manager Trevor Francis
"Johnson was the game's outstanding player"

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