Palace have steadily improved since Tony Pulis replaced Ian Holloway as manager in November and Puncheon's first half winner at Selhurst Park moved the hosts five points clear of the bottom three.

The Eagles' second successive victory also atoned for a disappointing FA Cup fourth round exit at Championship side Wigan on Saturday.

It was a frustrating evening for Hull, who finished with 10 men after goalkeeper Allan McGregor was sent off in the final moments.

Irish striker Shane Long, who joined Hull from West Bromwich Albion earlier this month, formed a new-look �14 million strike-force with fellow January signing Nikica Jelavic, who recently arrived from Everton.

In contrast to Hull's spending spree, Pulis was this week forced to deny reports that he was considering quitting over the club's lack of success in the transfer market since he took over from Holloway.

The former Stoke boss has often spoken of the need to improve Palace's squad, but the Eagles have yet to add to their squad so far during the transfer window.

Hull boss Steve Bruce might have felt his heavy investment would pay immediate dividends as the visitors made a lively start.

Jelavic almost got on the end of a low cross but the Croatian couldn't quite stretch to steer the ball home.

Long was next to trouble the Palace defence, causing a long ball into the penalty area before tumbling under a challenge from Danny Gabbidon.

Bruce was furious when referee Roger East waved away Hull's appeals for a penalty.

And Hull's anger increased as Palace took the lead in the 16th minute when midfielder Puncheon fired hom form eight yards after his initial header hit team-mate Marouane Chamakh on the back.

Bruce's team pressed hard for an equaliser in the second half, with Long and Jelavic both wasting chances before Liam Rosenior stabbed wide from a golden opportunity.

But Hull were reduced to 10 men when Stuart O'Keefe caught McGregor with a late tackle, prompting an angry reaction from the keeper.

After a bout of shoving between the pair, referee East showed McGregor the red card and with Hull having used all their substitutes, midfielder Tom Huddlestone had to go in goal.

Even so, Steve Quinn came agonisingly close to equalising for Hull with virtually the last kick of the game, but his shot flashed wide.