Ings strikes again to rescue a point

By SFC Media time Sat 28 Dec Saints v Crystal Palace
Photo by Matt Watson | Danny Ings
Sat 28 Dec 3PM
Premier League
Crystal Palace
Ings [74']
Tomkins [50']
Ward-Prowse (79')
yellow card
Milivojevic (32') McArthur (85')
Referee: Andy Madley | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,108

Danny Ings continued his rich vein of form to take his tally to 14 goals for the season with a second-half equaliser that earned Southampton a valuable point against Crystal Palace at St Mary’s.

Back on home soil after successive away wins at Aston Villa and Chelsea over Christmas, Saints took time to warm to their task, and Palace thought they had taken a 15th-minute lead through Max Meyer, only for VAR to intervene and disallow the goal for offside.

Instead the visitors made the breakthrough five minutes into the second half through a towering header from defender James Tomkins, but when Martin Kelly gifted the ball to Ings 16 minutes from time, Saints’ red-hot marksman made no mistake.

Cue a late bombardment as the hosts threw everything at the Londoners, but Vicente Guaita’s heroics to deny Moussa Djenepo, Ings and James Ward-Prowse ensured a share of the spoils.

Ralph Hasenhüttl was faced with a pre-match selection dilemma; stick with the team that produced arguably Saints’ best performance of the season to date, in the Boxing Day win at Chelsea, or freshen things up for their second game in 48 hours.

He settled for something in the middle; two changes, with in-form striker Ings predictably returning to the starting line-up, along with Sofiane Boufal, who has finally shaken off a toe problem. Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench, while Michael Obfemi was absent through injury.

Palace have proved a tough nut to crack this season – only Liverpool, Leicester and Sheffield United have conceded fewer goals – and the visitors soon made it clear they weren’t prepared to roll over for a Saints side chasing a third straight victory.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Sofiane Boufal of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Crystal Palace at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Sofiane Boufal made his first league start in three months as one of two changes

Ward-Prowse, the villain of the piece in the eyes of the travelling fans for his part in Wilfried Zaha’s red card at St Mary’s in January, did not endear himself to the visitors when he clattered into the winger early on. 

Hard but fair and no free-kick given, in spite of Zaha’s protests, while James McCarthy joined in by lashing the ball into the stands from the centre of the pitch in pure frustration.

Palace were already irked by the time VAR intervened to rule out a well-worked goal that did nothing to improve their mood.

Receiving the ball wide on the left, Zaha faced up Cédric and pulled the ball back for Meyer to score from eight yards, only for replays to confirm Zaha was just leaning offside in the build-up. Only by a matter of inches, but enough to let Saints off the hook.

Talking of let off the hook, Mamadou Sakho had to be bailed out by his teammates when robbed of possession inside his own penalty area by the energetic Nathan Redmond, as Saints showed their intent.

Then Ward-Prowse delivered a wicked free-kick from the right corner of the box skied over the bar by Jan Bednarek from no more than three yards – a glaring chance, but in defence of the Pole the ball did shoot up awkwardly in front of him on his left foot, which isn’t his strongest.

This was competitive stuff, played at a decent tempo and seemingly carrying a bit of ill-feeling between the players, which was helping the entertainment value. 

But chances were proving few and far between, so much so that Jordan Ayew’s scuffed toe poke and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s speculative strike from distance that veered off target became noteworthy.

The second half was only five minutes old when Tomkins’s bullet header sent the noisy Palace fans into raptures and gave his team a crucial lead in a game that felt like goals would be hard to come by. 

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Danny Ings(L) of Southampton celebrates with team mate Moussa Djenepo after scoring during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Crystal Palace at St Mary's Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Influential substitute Moussa Djenepo congratulates Danny Ings on his equalising goal

Saints could have been forgiven for thinking Luka Milivojević would shoot as he stood over a 25-yard free-kick. Perhaps the angle – just right of centre – persuaded him otherwise, as his clipped cross was met by a thumping contact from the head of Tomkins, who watched the ball crash against the underside of the crossbar on its way into the net.

Those boisterous Palace fans were on their feet again on the hour, when Zaha left Cédric and Højbjerg trailing in his wake before finding Meyer, who was dispossessed cleanly but from behind by Ward-Prowse, who survived loud penalty appeals from the away end. 

Still searching for his first Saints goal, Ché Adams was sacrificed soon after, as Hasenhüttl turned to Djenepo in a bid to inspire a change in fortunes. Armstrong, who had impressed at Stamford Bridge, followed in place of Boufal. 

If Hasenhüttl’s intentions were to prise open Palace’s watertight defence, he need not have worried – the visitors were about to do that job for him.

Ings’s threat was increasing, after one shot deflected wide and another into the side-netting, but he’d been feeding off scraps until Martin Kelly’s misplaced pass sent him bearing down on goal.

Never one to panic, he kept his head to slot the ball calmly past Guaita with all the confidence of a man who trails only Jamie Vardy in the Premier League Golden Boot race.

Suddenly Saints had the wind in their sails and Djenepo set off down the left, jinking inside two challenges and forcing an outstanding save from Palace’s Spanish stopper, who somehow clawed the ball out of the top corner one handed.

From a corner that followed, Guaita had to be alert again to keep out Ings’s glancing header, before Djenepo crossed for Ings whose latest attempt cleared the crossbar.

Djenepo was terrorising Palace’s left side, and when he drifted infield to win a free-kick, Ward-Prowse was only denied a signature moment by another flying save from Guaita.

Redmond’s late cutback for Ings looked like it might set up the winner, but Milivojević slid in to intercept, very nearly beating his own keeper in the process.

Saints had finished strongly, and can be satisfied with seven points from three games to sign off 2019.


Head to Head Stats

Crystal Palace
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jan Bednarek
Ryan Bertrand
Cédric Soares
Jack Stephens
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Nathan Redmond
Sofiane Boufal
replace Stuart Armstrong (68′)
James Ward-Prowse yellow card
Che Adams
replace Moussa Djenepo (63′)
Danny Ings goal
Moussa Djenepo
Maya Yoshida
William Smallbone
Oriol Romeu
Angus Gunn
Jannik Vestergaard
Stuart Armstrong

Crystal Palace

Vicente Guaita (GK)
Jairo Riedewald
James Tomkins goal
Mamadou Sakho
Martin Kelly
Luka Milivojevic (C) yellow card
James McArthur yellow card
Wilfried Zaha
James McCarthy
Max Meyer
replace Cheikhou Kouyaté (84′)
Jordan Ayew
Sam Woods
Brandon Pierrick
James Daly
Cheikhou Kouyaté
Víctor Camarasa
Wayne Hennessey
Connor Wickham
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