Crystal Palace 3, Albion 2

Merci Olivier Giroud.

The fight to stay out of the bottom three would look a whole lot more worrying for Albion without the two-goal Frenchman inspiring Chelsea's comeback at Southampton.

It is customary for sides managed by Mark Hughes this season to leak three goals or more. First Stoke, now Saints.

The same cannot usually be said of teams in the care of Chris Hughton.

Provided with the comfort of Chelsea's recovery on the south coast in the early kick-off, Albion proceeded to wreck their chances of sealing safety with catastrophic defending.

It took them just 24 minutes to concede three goals in an away game for the first time in the Premier League.

What a time to press self-destruct and keep the finger on the button, against the old enemy in even greater need of the points themselves.

Looking on the bright side, Albion managed in the first half to equal their tally of goals in their previous nine away League outings against Palace's ropey rearguard.

There is nothing wrong with the spirit either. A strong second half display should have produced a point.

But unless Albion stop letting in soft goals at one end and start taking more of their chances at the other, Hughton's plea to his players to achieve survival on their own merits, rather than depending on the inadequacies of others, will fall on deaf ears.

The Argus: The goal difference will take a mighty hammering if they defend like this against Spurs, Burnley, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

Instead of silencing Palace's notoriously noisy support at Selhurst Park, the home fans were bouncing with a mixture of joy and disbelief at the benevolence of their 'neighbours'.

Palace did not have to work at all for any of their goals. The ease with which they were presented with their early breakthrough was staggering.

When Luka Milivojevic worked a routine short corner with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, they had only Jurgen Locadia for company.

Why Dale Stephens or somebody else did not react sooner and vacate the area to assist the outnumbered Dutchman was bemusing.

Milivojevic drove low across the face of goal, Mathew Ryan stretched out an unconvincing hand and Wilfried Zaha tapped in at the far post just before the ball crossed the line.

Palace's second was a tale of similar collective incompetence, a reminder of that period when it felt as if Albion were conceding from corners in every game.

This one initially found the head of James Tomkins, with Ezequiel Schelotto statuesque. Ryan, unsighted, got a hand to it and the second decisive effort from Tomkins after Shane Duffy had blocked James McArthur’s initial follow-up.

The Australian keeper, so dependable normally, did not cover himself in glory, but the chaotic defending around him offered little protection.

Zaha was Albion's nemesis again after knocking them out of the Championship play-offs at the Amex five years ago with two goals.

His second was a collector's item. Milivojevic had all the time in the world to pick him out.

He ran off the back of Schelotto to head in at the far post, a first with that part of his anatomy in the Premier League.

Zaha's feet, pace and power are another matter. Albion simply could not handle him in the first half.

Palace, fortunately, also exhibited set piece charity to help the Seagulls halve the early arrears.

Lewis Dunk  (below), too strong for Mamadou Sakho, met Pascal Gross's corner with a header which Glenn Murray hooked in on the volley from a yard out.

The Argus: Jose Izquierdo, latching onto Locadia's pass, cut the deficit to one again in the most prolific first half fixture in the Premier League this season with a delightful curling finish with his deadly right foot.

As often happens after a rush of goals, that was the end of the scoring, although it should not have been.

Murray, unfortunate with a stretching volley inches wide from a Beram Kayal cross, contrived late-on from two yards out to volley away from and not into the net another volley after Leo Ulloa flicked on another Kayal cross.

Hughton was more concerned about his team giving themselves too much to do. "They were three poor goals, particularly in this type of game where you know the importance of it," he said, "It was a problem we had addressed (from corners) so I am annoyed and frustrated. It's difficult to come back from that.

"At this stage of the season it's the last thing you would want in any game. We know what this game means to our supporters and also what it means as regards points that both clubs need."

Albion will have to pull their socks up to compete with Spurs. "There won't be one player that doesn't know the situation we're in, doesn't know that we need to get points, and doesn't know what we have to put into the performance against Tottenham," Hughton said.

"Nobody at this club wants to leave it to the last game." Especially not when it is at Anfield.