Saints fall to opening day defeat

By SFC Media time Sat 12 Sep Crystal Palace v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Oriol Romeu
Sat 12 Sep 3PM
Premier League
Crystal Palace
Zaha [13']
Schlupp (41') McCarthy (58')
yellow card
Walker-Peters (51')
Referee: Jonathan Moss | Venue: Selhurst Park | Attendance: 0

Southampton’s new Premier League season began with a 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park, as Wilfried Zaha’s early goal secured the points for Crystal Palace on the opening day.

Saints had started in the ascendancy and Zaha’s cool 13th-minute volley arrived against the run of play, but Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men were unable to find a way back into the contest.

Ché Adams came close to an equaliser with a sharp volley early in the second half, but the striker was denied by flying goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Saints might have been reduced to 10 men by that point, but Kyle Walker-Peters was the beneficiary of the pitch-side monitor, as referee Jonathan Moss overturned his own decision to dismiss the defender for a high boot.

The visitors kept pushing and were very nearly rewarded deep into stoppage time, but again Guaita was in the right place to make a vital save, this time denying Danny Ings.

Only the enforced absence of Stuart Armstrong, sidelined by a quad injury picked up on international duty, prevented Hasenhüttl picking his strongest possible side.

Armstrong’s starting spot on the right flank went to Will Smallbone, as Saints donned their striking Peru-esque third kit, with a host of new squad numbers but a very familiar style.

Hasenhüttl’s team were not shy in getting on top of their hosts. James Ward-Prowse’s first corner of the season was typically on the money, or, more specifically, the head of Jack Stephens, who forced an early save from Guaita.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Nathan Redmond(L) of Southampton and Joel Ward(R) of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on September 12, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Nathan Redmond competes for the ball with Joel Ward

Then Ryan Bertrand surged down the left and found Adams, whose attempt to combine with Ings threated to create a first chance for last season’s talisman, but the ball just ran away from him.

Palace were struggling, but proved their ruthlessness on the counter-attack to stun Saints with the opening goal after 13 minutes.

As Andros Townsend charged down the right, the England international spotted Zaha at the far post and picked him out. The front man did the rest, calmly volleying the ball low into the net to beat Alex McCarthy.

The Saints stopper had not needed to make a save up to that point, but was called upon when Scott Dann rose highest to meet a corner, sending McCarthy down to his left to push the ball to safety.

Saints had lost some of their early spark. Ings did his best to fashion a chance out of Smallbone’s deflected cross, but Palace had a lead to protect and were not giving their visitors a sniff.

Stephens had gone to ground with a knee problem early in the game, but Jan Bednarek was the man sacrificed at half time, as Jannik Vestergaard entered the fray.

Straightaway there was more zip about Saints. Ings found Adams, who rolled the ball to his left for Nathan Redmond, whose first-time shot was smothered by Guaita.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Cheikhou Kouyate(L) of Crystal Palace and Ché Adams(R) of Southampton during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Southampton at Selhurst Park on September 12, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ché Adams went close to levelling the scores soon after half time

One of Vestergaard’s first contributions was a searching diagonal ball to set Kyle Walker-Peters free down the right, whose low cross skidded across the box unconverted.

It was a lively start to the second half and Walker-Peters was involved in an eventful incident in the 50th minute. 

Initially shown a red card by Moss for catching Tyrick Mitchell with a high foot, the decision was downgraded to a yellow card after the referee consulted the pitch-side monitor.

Saints set about taking advantage of that reprieve with another attempt to level the scores, as Adams seized on a Vestergaard knockdown with a sharp volley to force Guaita’s best save to date.

Much like in the first half, Saints’ initial momentum began to fizzle out. Ward-Prowse eyed up an equaliser from a free-kick near the left corner of the box, but for once could not hit the target and this time Guaita was not called upon.

By now time was running out, and Hasenhüttl made his second change with 13 minutes left, introducing Moussa Djenepo in place of Smallbone to give his side more pace and dynamism.

Instead it was the speed of Zaha that unlocked Saints and appeared to have put the game to bed, as he ran clean through on goal to double his tally, but the goal was rightly ruled out for a marginal offside.

Six added minutes offered time to rescue a share of the spoils, but Guaita flung himself to his right to thwart Ings's close-range header, and Palace held on for maximum points.

Crystal Palace

Head to Head Stats

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Crystal Palace

Vicente Guaita (GK)
Joel Ward
Scott Dann (C)
Cheikhou Kouyaté
Tyrick Mitchell
Jeffrey Schlupp yellow card
replace Eberechi Eze (81′)
James McCarthy yellow card
replace Luka Milivojevic (74′)
Andros Townsend
James McArthur
Jordan Ayew
Wilfried Zaha goal
Eberechi Eze
Martin Kelly
Sam Woods
Max Meyer
Michy Batshuayi
Wayne Hennessey
Luka Milivojevic


Alex McCarthy (GK)
Ryan Bertrand
Jack Stephens
Jan Bednarek
replace Jannik Vestergaard (45′)
Kyle Walker-Peters yellow card
James Ward-Prowse (C)
Oriol Romeu
Nathan Redmond
William Smallbone
replace Moussa Djenepo (77′)
Che Adams
replace Shane Long (85′)
Danny Ings
Jake Vokins
Fraser Forster
Nathan Tella
Moussa Djenepo
Michael Obafemi
Shane Long
Jannik Vestergaard
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