Saints 2-0 Crystal Palace: Report
Second half goals from Dani Osvaldo and Rickie Lambert earned Saints their first league win of the season on home soil.
After a goalless first half where just one shot on target was recorded, Saints broke the deadlock just two minutes after the restart through Osvaldo’s first goal for the club. The Italian received Lallana’s pass on the edge of the area where he took a touch to get the ball out of his feet, before smashing a low shot past Julian Speroni which the Palace ‘keeper had little chance of stopping despite getting an outstretched arm on it.
The contest was effectively over just two minutes after that, when Lambert converted a free-kick from the left with an emphatic strike that clipped the inside of the post on its way in for 2-0. That strike was the number seven’s 200th league goal in English football, and he celebrated it in style too,
From then on, Saints were largely untroubled by the Eagles who went a third game without a goal and remain without a win away win to their name this season.
A fourth clean sheet in six league matches from the hosts means Saints remain one of the toughest teams to beat in the top-flight in the early stages of the campaign as they moved into the top five of the table with the win.
Mauricio Pochettino made one change to his starting eleven from the team that performed so well in the league win over Liverpool at Anfield.
Steven Davis took the place of Jay Rodriguez in midfield, with the Northern Irishman having also played in the Capital One Cup tie against Bristol City in midweek. Palace old boys, Jose Fonte and Nathaniel Clyne each lined up against their former club in defence for the hosts, with the latter playing against the Eagles for the first time since his departure from Selhurst Park in 2012.
The visitors restored Kagisho Dikgacoi to their line-up, with the midfielder having returned from a one match suspension to partner captain Mile Jedinak in the middle.
Saints got the contest underway with Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana starting proceedings, with the hosts defending the Chapel stand for the opening 45 minutes.
The Eagles, in their changed strip of predominantly black shirts and black shorts were set up to try and contain the home side, opting for a 4-4-2 line up that saw Barry Bannan and Jimmy Kebe provide the width from midfield.
Saints began brightly and created their first chance on 6 minutes when an uncharacteristic high ball into the area was flicked on by Lambert which Schneiderlin headed over the on-rushing Julian Speroni, only for defender Joel Ward to be well positioned to clear the ball off the line and out for a corner.
After a foul against Lallana on the edge of the area had gone unpunished, Palace came into the game to make their first venture forward on 13 when a ball from midfield found its way to Kebe, who linked up neatly with Chamakh with a series of quick passes, with the final shot from Dwight Gayle, charged down by Clyne as Boruc rushed out to deal with it.
Steven Davis went into the book for a tug on Kebe in midfield as the stop-start nature to the game continued in the opening exchanges with neither side able to get into their natural rhythm.
Saints put together a decent move in the 23rd minute when Osvaldo twisted and turned on the right to cross for Lallana, who showed neat skill to tee the ball up for Lambert to strike, but the frontman’s fierce shot flew just over the bar from around ten yards out.
Soon after, a handball against Jedinak from Schneiderlin’s attempted cross gave the hosts a free-kick in an encouraging position on the left hand side of the area. Lambert hit a fiercely struck effort that dipped towards the bottom left corner, only for Speroni to beat it away with an outstretched arm.
Another free-kick was awarded for a foul on the same side on 27 minutes. This time, the delivery from Lallana came to nothing as the Palace defence breathed a sigh of relief.
The Saints backline were mightily relieved at the other end soon after though as Chamakh breached the last line and burst through on goal where he went to ground as Boruc approached with the Moroccan forward looking for a penalty. Referee Martin Atkinson agreed, and booked the former Arsenal man for diving rather than awarding the spot kick that the striker was looking for.
Saints had a half-hearted appeal for a penalty of their own turned down on the half hour when Lallana’s cross struck a flailing Palace arm inside the box, but the match official stood firm again.
A swift break from defence to attack saw Osvaldo release Lambert down the right flank in the 36th minute, but a crunching challenge from Danny Gabbidon soon thwarted the move.
At the other end, Joel Ward struck a shot from the right which Lovren got in the way of as attempts on goal from both sides remained fairly elusive as the game headed into the final five minutes of the half.
After Wanyama’s speculative effort which flew wide, the whistle for the break sounded with Saints still to register a goal in the first half of a league game so far this season, though the resolute defending ensured that the team were halfway towards another clean sheet.
HALF-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 0-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
There were no changes from either side as Palace got the action back underway for the second 45.
It was a quick start from the hosts, who having only had one shot on target in the first half, took the lead with their first effort on goal less than three minutes after the restart with a first strike in Saints colours for OSVALDO.
The breakthrough strike came as a result of pressure from the right where Clyne and Lallana combined with the latter, squaring the ball for Osvaldo, who took one touch to get the ball out of his feet before slamming home with his left foot with a shot that was too hot for Speroni to handle.
There was barely time to catch a breather before Saints doubled their lead on 49 minutes. A foul on Osvaldo the left flank created a set-piece in shooting range just to the side of the penalty area. LAMBERT stepped up and struck a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the net via the near post for a quickfire double of strikes.
On 51, Lambert went agonisingly close to a third when he got on the end of Jedinak’s header clear, and fired in a low shot which bobbled just wide of the left post with Speroni rooted to the spot.
Chances were now coming thick and fast for the hosts with Steven Davis firing a volley wide when well placed, forcing Palace boss Ian Holloway to rethink.
He withdrew both Barry Bannan and Dwight Gayle in favour of Cameron Jerome, and Jerome Thomas with 57 minutes on the watch.
Saints remained on the front foot however, with Lambert continuing to pull the strings in the final third as the hosts pushed on for another goal.
Palace briefly responded with a low cross into the area which was cleared by Fonte under pressure from substitute Jerome.
In the 67th minute, Steven Davis was replaced by James Ward-Prowse for the home side, with the youngster taking up an advanced role on the right of midfield.
Former Saints man Kevin Phillips replaced Jimmy Kebe for the visitors on 72 minutes who sought one last spark from their final substitution to try and find a way back into the game.
Saints’ second scorer, Lambert was replaced by Jay Rodriguez for the last 13 minutes or so. Rodriguez had the ball in the net inside the final ten minutes, but the effort was not counted as an offside flag had already been raised in the build-up to his tap in from two yards out.
Lallana was substituted in Saints’ final change on 86 minutes, with Gaston Ramirez taking the skipper’s place in midfield for the last spell of the contest.
Ward-Prowse took aim for the last shot of the 90 which he skied over, and even five minutes of additional time for stoppages did little to reinvigorate a match that belonged to the hosts.
FULL-TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 2-0 CRYSTAL PALACE
Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Adam Lallana (c) (Gaston Ramirez 86), Steven Davis (James Ward-Prowse 67), Rickie Lambert (Jay Rodriguez 77), Dani Osvaldo.
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Jack Cork, Calum Chambers, Jos Hooiveld
Crystal Palace team: Julian Speroni, Joel Ward, Adrian Mariappa, Danny Gabbidon, Dean Moxey, Kagisho Dikgacoi, Mile Jedinak (c), Barry Bannan (Cameron Jerome 57), Jimmy Kebe (Kevin Phillips 72), Dwight Gayle (Jerome Thomas 57), Marouane Chamakh
Unused substitutes: Lewis Price, Jonathan Parr, Jose Campana, Stuart O’Keefe
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 30,699 (including 3,190 away)