If Crystal Palace had not yet realised the harsh reality of the Premier League, then it was made very clear to them as they were beaten 4-1 by Fulham at Selhurst Park.

The Eagles played some of their best football to date in the first half and had taken the lead through Adrian Mariappa’s powerful header.

There was little indication then of what was to come, but two wonder goals from Pajtim Kasami and Steve Sidwell had Fuham ahead at half time.

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The night started so well with Adrian Mariappa heading Palace into a 1-0 lead

It was a lead the Cottagers barely deserved but they scored twice more from corners at the start of the second half and were comfortable winners by the end.

While it was a not a defeat that condemns Palace to relegation, it will make even the most ardent supporter struggle to see any other result come May.

It was a game many had labelled as ‘must win’ despite being only the eighth match of the season and manager Ian Holloway named the line-up many fans had called for, with Jose Campana, Yannick Bolasie and Dwight Gayle all starting.

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Mariappa congratulated after a great start for Palace

And it looked like a selection that would pay off as Palace started in barnstorming fashion and took the lead on seven minutes.

Campana’s corner was worked back to him and his neat reverse ball found Jason Puncheon free by the left touchline.

He swung over a cross first time that deflected off Dimitar Berbatov and hung in the air for Mariappa to attack and jump above Brede Hangeland to head home.

Selhurst was rocking and Palace seemed in control until Kasami’s moment of brilliance.

The winger ran 30 yards to control Sascha Riether’s long ball on his chest and volley in first time across Julian Speroni from the edge of the box. It was a goal that will take some beating for the goal of the season award.

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Fulham's Pajtim Kasami celebrates his wonder goal to make it 1-1

Palace recovered from the set back though and began to control once more but struggled to create chances – Bolasie’s 25-yard effort straight at Maarten Stekelenburg was the best they mustered.

In a moment of comedy, the executive boxes had to be evacuated because of a fire alarm, but that was where the fun stopped for Palace fans.

On the stroke of half time, Bolasie gave the ball away to Sidwell and then fouled him 20 yards out. Bryan Ruiz’s free kick was blocked but the ball bounced for Sidwell on the edge of the box and he hammered it first time into the top corner.

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Julian Speroni is beaten by another wonder goal as Steve Sidwell puts Fulham 2-1 up

Campana, who had shown moments of quality when on the ball but had struggled to impose himself, was replaced by Jerome Thomas at half time as Holloway went on the attack.

Within 10 minutes though the game was over.

Speroni saved well from Darren Bent to redeem himself for kicking straight at Berbatov, but from the corner Berbatov outmuscled Mariappa to head home.

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Palace keeper Julian Speroni makes a save after he kicked the ball into a Fulham player - but Berbatov was to score from the corner

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Dimitar Berbatov scores with a header to make it 3-1 to Fulham

It was four when Mile Jedinak was dragged under the ball from another corner and the player he was supposed to be marking, Philippe Senderos, slid home at the back post.

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Julian Speroni indicates he had his shirt pulled in build up to Fulham's 4th goal

From then on Fulham were comfortable, though Palace did try to claw their way back into the game.

Damien Delaney’s surging run ended with Gayle scoring but seeing his effort ruled out for offside – although there was a claim for a penalty for Kieran Richardson’s foul on Delaney.

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Damien Delaney surges forward to set up a goal chance for Dwight Gayle but the 'goal' was disallowed

Joel Ward tricked his way into the box but shot over, Stuart O’Keefe shot straight at Stekelenburg and Dean Moxey also saw his long-range effort parried by the goalkeeper.

At the other end, Speroni produced a fantastic save to deny Kasami another wonder goal on a night he won’t forget for a long time and neither may Palace, but for very different reasons.

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Bolasie is tripped by Fulham's Steve Sidwell