Saints storm back to beat Palace


Southampton put a five-match winless run behind them with an impressive comeback victory at home to Crystal Palace, as they emerged 3-1 winners from an entertaining clash at St Mary’s.

Christian Benteke’s strike inside two minutes could have set Saints on the road to another night of disappointment, but Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men stormed back to take the points, with a pair of goals from Danny Ings providing the bookends to a Ché Adams effort.

There was also a crucial intervention from Fraser Forster, who saved a Luka Milivojević penalty late in the first half to keep the score at 1-1.

The result completed a positive 24 hours for Saints, who had their Premier League status confirmed for another year when Burnley beat Fulham the night before.

Hasenhüttl made two changes from the team that lost 2-0 away to Liverpool on Saturday night, as Ings returned to fitness in time to make the starting line-up, while Takumi Minamino was also restored, with Theo Walcott and Nathan Tella dropping to the bench.

If Ings’s return, having missed the previous two games, provided some positive news to start the night, disappointment was to follow soon after kick-off, as Saints conceded within two minutes.

The goal came from a free-kick deep on the left wing, after Kyle Walker-Peters was judged to have fouled Tyrick Mitchell. Palace skipper Milivojević delivered the resulting set-piece, with Scott Dann peeling away at the back post to meet the ball 18 yards out and angle a header back across goal. Benteke then persevered in battling for it on multiple occasions, eventually being able to break into space on the corner of the six-yard box from where he planted a low, left-foot shot beyond Forster.

Saints would only be behind until the 20th minute, though, as Ings netted a sublime effort to level the scores.

It began with a long, diagonal pass from Jan Bednarek, as he found Nathan Redmond down the left. Redmond chested the ball down, took another touch and clipped in a cross towards the near post area, with Ings able to beat Chiekhou Kouyaté to the ball, control it away from goal and then swivel and plant a low, right-footed strike into the far bottom corner.

Redmond then so nearly completed a swift turnaround on 25 minutes, as a clever Adams flick found him in space on the left side of the area, but his low shot across goal was turned behind brilliantly by Vicente Guaita.

Shortly afterwards, the Palace keeper again had to fling himself low to his left to save from Adams, as the striker sent in a shot from a similar position, with Saints now very much upping the pressure.

The visitors did then get a bit of respite when Eberechi Eze tested Forster with a free-kick from just beyond the side of the area, a few yards from the byline, but the Saints keeper was able to punch clear.

Back at the other end, another chance opened up for the hosts in what was fast becoming a favourite spot, just inside the left corner of the area. This time it fell to Jack Stephens, as a partially-cleared corner was helped to him by Minamino, but Dann threw himself in the way of the defender’s shot, diverting it just past the near post.

It looked as though Saints were the most likely to take the lead, but Palace were then offered a golden opportunity to grab it themselves when Wilfried Zaha was judged to have been bundled over in the box by Redmond, allowing Milivojević a clear look from 12 yards.

He sent his penalty low to Forster’s left, but that was exactly where the Southampton stopper went, as he pushed the spot kick away.

A delay followed, as VAR checked for possible encroachment, but it was deemed there was no infringement, and the save stood.

Saints almost then grabbed the lead seconds before half-time, as Ward-Prowse shaved the outside of the post with a free-kick from 25 yards after Redmond had been pulled down by Jordan Ayew in a central position.

Half-time saw one change from Hasenhüttl, as Bednarek was withdrawn and replaced by Mohammed Salisu.

Just like in the first half, it took only about two minutes for a goal – and this time it came for Saints.

A cleverly-disguised corner saw Ward-Prowse drag the ball back to Stuart Armstrong in space and, although he didn’t hit his strike as he would have hoped, he did send it skidding across the face of goal, with Adams sliding in at the back post to prod home from the tightest of angles, putting the hosts in front for the first time on the night.

The lead almost evaporated within a matter of moments, but Forster came to the rescue again, this time sticking up a right hand to repel Benteke’s header from an Eze corner.

Palace then threatened once more, on 54 minutes, as Zaha was tripped inches outside the area by Jannik Vestergaard, who was booked by Andy Madley, but Milivojević was unable to get his free-kick over the wall.

An even better opportunity then came the visitors’ way just after the hour mark, as a routine pass from Salisu to Stephens slipped under the latter’s foot, allowing Benteke in on goal, but, under pressure from a back-tracking Stephens, the Palace striker put his left-footed shot from 18 yards wide of the post, as Saints earned a major reprieve.

Palace were really pressing by this point, and Roy Hodgson then sent on both Jeffrey Schlupp and Michy Batshuayi in close succession, for Milivojević and Ayew.

But, just when it looked as if Saints were struggling to hold on, they went and bagged their third goal of the night.

It was a lovely move that built up to it, as the hosts cut Palace open, with Walker-Peters playing a pass in-field to Ward-Prowse, who then played it forward to Adams about 25 yards out, and he then turned and slipped in Ings, who poked past Guaita with his right foot, sending the ball just inside the post.

That would be the forward’s last touch of the night, as he was immediately substituted for Michael Obafemi. Had there been any fans inside St Mary’s, Ings would undoubtedly have left to a standing ovation.

Saints then comfortably saw out the game in the closing stages, as they took their points total to 40 and jumped from 17th at the start of the night to 14th at the end of it.