Southampton 2-1 Crystal Palace: Match Report

05 April 2017 09:34

Southampton leave it late before ending Crystal Palace's four-match unbeaten run

Maya Yoshida and James Ward-Prowse spared Shane Long's blushes as Southampton hit two goals in as many minutes to sink Crystal Palace 3-1 at St Mary's.

Republic of Ireland striker Long spurned a trio of gilt-edged chances and Saints were almost made to pay for that wastefulness, until Yoshida came to the rescue.

The Japan defender's tap-in seven minutes from time turned this Premier League tie, after Christian Benteke and Nathan Redmond had traded first-half goals.

Saints laboured without injured arch finisher Manolo Gabbiadini, with Long unable to match the Italian's predatory instincts.

Palace so nearly took their unbeaten run to five matches, but somehow Saints salvaged victory - with Yoshida claiming his first league goal since February 2016.

Saints' breakneck opening merited scoreboard reward, but just a minute in Long slashed marginally wide. Redmond's inside-left through-ball scythed Palace open, with only Ireland forward Long's finish lacking.

Benteke quickly mirrored that miss however, heading tamely wide from a corner. The Belgium hitman had bullied Oriol Romeu to force an unmarked position just six yards out, that he promptly wasted.

Long then miscued wildly with a snap effort after a defensive misjudgement from Palace, before the visitors rallied.

Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster stood motionless as Luka Milivojevic's free-kick clipped the base of the post and bounced wide.

Wayne Hennessey saved well from Redmond's tidy header, but midway through the first half, Palace were on the rise.

Milivojevic's calmness started a field-length move that ended with Benteke firing home, but also comprised key turns from Jeffrey Schlupp, Wilfried Zaha, Jason Puncheon and Andros Townsend.

Schlupp and Zaha built down the left, Puncheon set Townsend down the right, and his low ball enabled Benteke to open the scoring.

Saints were rightly aggrieved to be denied a clear penalty when referee Roger East dismissed claims for handball by Schlupp. The Palace defender almost punched clear as Dusan Tadic tried to create space in the visitors' box.

The hosts' second bout of fury proved misguided amid spurious penalty claims owing to Milivojevic's challenge on Long.

Southampton vented frustrations with the equaliser, as Redmond's skidding shot found a way through the bodies after Steven Davis robbed Zaha and looped a deep cross to the far post.

Ward-Prowse spurned a fine chance to open the second half, with Cedric Soares' hopeful follow-up spinning wide too.

Long then lofted his chip just too high after Tadic's inch-perfect through-ball, before Mamadou Sakho's misdirected header sailed just wide of his own net.

Former Hull striker Long's testing night worsened again with yet another fine chance wasted.

Again Tadic cut Palace to pieces, this time with a flick over the top - again Long's finishing failed to match the approach play.

Sakho denied Davis a definite goal, before the Saints captain's follow-up was blocked by Damien Delaney.

But just when Saints appeared out of ideas, up popped Yoshida with the goal which turned the game. The Japan defender turned the ball home thanks to Jack Stephens' assist and Redmond's neat cutback.

Suddenly Saints shook the shackles, with Ward-Prowse firing the third after good approach play from Tadic and Soares.

Source: PA