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Fulham's hopes of survival take a hit with defeat at Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace took all three points. Credit: PA

Fulham's hopes of Premier League survival suffered a fresh setback when they lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

An improved display against Tottenham and victory over Brighton had presented Claudio Ranieri's with some momentum, but they were outplayed by Palace and again contributed to their defeat, which was secured by goals from Luka Milivojevic and Jeffrey Schlupp.

Fulham are seven points from safety and their next eight league fixtures consist of four away games and home clashes against Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

Roy Hodgson's improving Palace had responded to Wilfried Zaha's suspension and an injury to Cheikhou Kouyate by switching from a 4-3-3 formation to 4-4-2 and recalling Schlupp and Christian Benteke.

With Fulham starting Tom Cairney, who as a substitute against Brighton inspired Tuesday's 4-2 win, the most notable omissions were Palace's new signing Michy Batshuayi, among the substitutes, and Connor Wickham who did not even make their bench.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored twice against Brighton, wasted a fine opportunity early on. Joe Bryan crossed from the left wing to find him unchallenged at the near post, but despite having both time and space he headed low and wide.

Batshuayi made his Crystal Palace debut. Credit: PA

Last week in the FA Cup against Tottenham it was a clumsy handball by Kyle Walker-Peters that gifted Palace the penalty from which they doubled their lead, and in the 25th minute Cyrus Christie was similarly at fault when he jumped for a ball with Benteke.

The reliable Milivojevic stepped up to score his seventh goal of the season by placing his effort inside the right post. Goalkeeper Sergio Rico did well to get a hand to the ball but could not divert it from its path to the back of the net.

Benteke then came remarkably close to scoring what would have been one of the goals of the season. A knee injury had contributed to him not starting since September 1, and he had not scored since April 28, but when Andros Townsend crossed towards him at the back post he ambitiously jumped and was unlucky to only send a bicycle kick against the crossbar.

Ranieri responded at half-time by replacing defender Tim Ream with forward Luciano Vietto, but then watched Palace's control increase.

Fulham are facing a tough task to stay in the Premier League. Credit: PA

Jordan Ayew tested Rico with left-footed effort from a tight angle, and Schlupp forced him into a fine save when carrying the ball into the area and shooting after being fed by Patrick Van Aanholt.

When Mitrovic struck harmlessly over the crossbar, from space towards the edge of the area when he had few options, it captured only the visitors' growing desperation and plight.

Batshuayi, then making his debut as an 82nd-minute substitute, needed only five minutes to make impact when holding off Denis Odoi from inside the area to skilfully turn and shoot at Rico, who palmed into the path of Schlupp, leaving the midfielder with a routine finish that took them up to 14th.