Saints beaten by last-gasp Zaha strike


Wilfried Zaha struck a stoppage-time winner for Crystal Palace, who came from behind to snatch victory over Southampton at St Mary’s.

It started well for Saints, as Oriol Romeu headed home James Ward-Prowse’s ninth-minute corner, but Eberechi Eze levelled for the Eagles on the hour.

In truth it was a game lacking clear chances at either end but not short on commitment that looked set to finish a point apiece until substitute Zaha beat Fraser Forster with a low shot from 20 yards.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made one enforced change to his starting line-up following the 2-2 draw at Brighton, with Tino Livramento replaced by Romain Perraud as Kyle Walker-Peters switched to right-back.

Livramento’s knee injury, as Hasenhüttl feared at the time, will keep the teenager sidelined for several months and not just the remainder of the season.

The start to the game was largely uneventful until Shane Long chased Mark Guéhi towards the defender’s own corner flag, causing the England international to fall on the ball, obstruct Long and concede a free-kick.

When Ward-Prowse’s wicked delivery from the left was headed behind for a corner, the captain swung in another beauty, this time given a nod of approval by Romeu, whose header had too much power for compatriot Vicente Guaita, who touched it on to the bar but could not keep it out.

Palace’s response was to go close through Conor Gallagher, who should have scored from Jeffrey Schlupp’s cross but directed the chance wide of the post as he looked to head the ball back across the rooted Forster.

The in-form Saints stopper was called upon for the first time after more good play from Schlupp, who this time cut the ball back from the byline for Jean-Philippe Mateta, who took a touch and shot towards the near post, only to be met by Forster’s big right boot.

At the other end, Saints’ strike pairing of Long and Ché Adams were chasing everything, constantly in the faces of Guéhi and Joachim Andersen, who were enduring an uncomfortable afternoon.

Meanwhile, an interception from Nathan Tella opened up the pitch for him to carry the ball into, combining with Adams before drilling a low shot Guaita took two attempts to smother.

Both teams might be safe in the middle of the table, but there was no shortage of commitment on show, with tackles flying in on both sides.

Jan Bednarek and Mateta both went into the book together, while James McArthur and Joel Ward followed and Jordan Ayew was penalised for a studs-up challenge from which he did win the ball but not necessarily within the rules of the modern game.

It was an entertaining battle but chances were in short supply. Forster earned another round of applause for flying to his left to repel Ayew’s near-post header from a corner, before Adams shot tamely on the turn in the box.

Forster remained unbeatable in the Saints goal into the second half, but his parry from Ayew’s low cross went only as far as Schlupp, who took just too long to get his shot away.

Ward-Prowse’s set-pieces continued to trouble Palace, including one inswinging free-kick that was kept alive by Romeu, forcing Guéhi to throw himself in the way of Long’s shot.

The game was in the balance but it was Palace who found the crucial second goal to draw level on the hour mark.

Ayew’s pass down the line looked a little heavy, but Nathaniel Clyne dug out a superb cross on the run for Eze, who was left in far too much space at the far post to slide a low shot through the legs of Forster.

Hasenhüttl wasted no time in changing things, introducing Armando Broja and Stuart Armstrong for Long and Adams, pushing Nathan Redmond forward to support the Albanian.

But Palace wanted three points themselves, bringing talisman Zaha off the bench at the same time, and the travelling fans were calling for a penalty midway through the second period as their team kicked on.

Gallagher’s smart turn away from Mohammed Salisu bought him a yard of space in the box, before Romeu came across and did not appear to take any of the ball, although the Chelsea loanee was seemingly already off balance.

Substitute Stuart Armstrong twice shot off target as Saints pushed to turn one point into three, but neither side looked like having enough to turn one point into three until Zaha turned sharply outside the box and beat Forster with a low drive via the keeper’s right-hand post.