The Rams suffered their second defeat in South London in the space of seven days, as a double from Glenn Murray combined with Andre Mortiz’s 58th minute strike sealed a 3-0 win for League leaders Crystal Palace.
Former Brighton and Hove Albion striker Murray opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he nodded Yannick Bolasie’s left-wing corner into the roof of the net.
Moritz doubled the visitor’s advantage with venomous drive before Murray completed his brace and the score-line with curling effort after beating two Derby defenders.
The League leaders started in confident fashion, and fresh from his first England cap in midweek, Wilfried Zaha gave a glimpse of why he is so highly rated, as the 20-year-old left Will Hughes and Paul Coutts scratching their heads following a piece of mesmerising trickery in the opening minute of the game.
In the sixth minute, the returning Jake Buxton produced a terrific last ditch tackle on Andre Mortiz after the Brazilian had hooked the ball over the defender’s head and sprinted through on goal.
However, just a minute later the Rams produced their first effort on goal when Michael Jacobs’ tantalising cross from the left was met by the deftest of touches from Conor Sammon, but the ball fell narrowly wide of Julian Speroni’s far post.
Although Sammon’s effort came within inches of handing Derby the lead, it was his opposite number, Murray who proved clinical with his first real opportunity of the game.
With 12 minutes gone, Bolasie’s left-wing corner was nodded into the turf by the unmarked Murray at the far post, before the ball bounced up into the roof of the net.
The Rams almost found a leveller 10 minutes later when Craig Bryson’s dangerous cross was headed narrowly wide of his own goal by former Newcastle United defender Peter Ramage.
The home side were brimming with self-assurance and had two good opportunities to double their advantage before the interval.
Firstly, Moritz ran onto a loose ball and sent a thunderbolt towards the bottom corner that forced Adam Legzdins
into a terrific one handed stop, before South African international Kagisho Dikgacoi snatched at an effort from the edge of the area, firing harmlessly over.
On the stroke of half-time, Derby reminded the Eagles they were still in the game when Buxton’s towering header at the far post from Paul Coutts’ free-kick, found the outstretched Jeff Hendrick, but the Irish under-21 international could only stab the ball wide from a tight angle.
In the second-half Zaha continued to threaten the visitor’s with his mazy running, and in the opening two minutes he beat Gareth Roberts and pulled the ball back to Mortiz who fired over from 10-yards out.
After the half-time team talk Derby looked to have more of a stronghold on the game and England under-21 international Hughes found space before curling the ball straight into the arms of Speroni from the edge of the penalty area.
Despite a more resolute Rams in the second period, it was the hosts who looked the more likely to find the net when Murray’s knock down played in Zaha, but thankfully, another last ditch tackle from Buxton did enough to put the forward off.
And in the 58th minute, Ian Holloway’s men sailed into a two goal lead. Damien Delaney’s long diagonal ball was knocked down by Murray into the path of Moritz, who rifled the ball into the net.
Then Mortiz almost added a third when he drilled a left-footed effort inches wide of the far post from the edge of the area, with Legzdins beaten.
In the final quarter-of-an-hour manager Nigel Clough introduced Nathan Tyson and Theo Robinson in a bid to claw a goal back, but it was Palace who went on to round off the scoring. Murray showed real composure to beat Roberts and Buxton before curling ball beyond the reach of Legzdins from 12-yards out.
The Rams’ best effort of the game came in the final three minutes when Hughes forced Speroni into action with a fantastic dipping strike from a tight angle, but it was not to be for the Rams, who slipped to back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.
Derby County: Legzdins (GK); Brayford, Keogh, Buxton, Roberts; Coutts (Tyson 80), Hendrick, Bryson, Hughes, Jacobs; Sammon (Robinson 74).
Subs Not Used: Fielding (GK), O’Connor, O’Brien, Gjokaj, Hoganson.
Crystal Palace: Speroni (GK), Ward, Parr, Bolasie (Easter 88), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Zaha, Murray (Wilbraham 88), Delaney, Ramage, Moritz (Garvan 76).
Subs Not Used: Price (GK), Blake, Moxey, O'Keefe.
Attendance: 16,211 (1,005 Visiting Supporters).