Crystal Palace were just too hot for Derby County to handle, admits Nigel Clough
NIGEL Clough admitted that leaders Crystal Palace proved too hot for his Derby County team to handle.
Clough said he had no complaints after the Rams lost 3-0 to Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
The win stretched the Eagles' unbeaten run to 14 matches and they hold a two-point lead over Cardiff City at the top of the Championship.
Afterwards, Clough had no hesitation in labelling Palace the best side Derby have faced this season.
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"Palace were too good for us on the day and you could see why they are top of the table," said the manager.
"They were brimming with confidence off the back of an impressive unbeaten run.
"They are strong, powerful and a threat at set plays.
"They have got the pace out wide in Zaha and Bolasie, they have got Murray up the middle with his goals and they have got Jedinak sitting in midfield where he breaks up a lot of play.
"Palace are a very settled side, as well, and that helps. I think that is pretty much the side that has played for them in the last 14 games.
"We hate losing but sometimes losing to such a good side makes it a little bit easier to take.
"They are certainly the best side we have played."
Glenn Murray scored twice for Palace and took his tally to 15 for the season. Brazilian midfielder Andre Moritz was also on the scoresheet.
Much of the pre-match talk had been about Palace's pacy wide men, Wilfried Zaha and Yannick Bolasie, but Clough pointed to Murray's performance as the difference between the two teams.
"Our full-backs did extremely well against the pace of their two wide men and kept them largely quiet but, unfortunately, Murray was a bit too much for us," said Clough.
"It was a very good centre-forward's performance. He gave us problems in the air, he held the ball up and he got his goals.
"He was the main difference between the two sides."
The defeat saw Derby slip to 13th. They are five points adrift of the top six.