Southampton’s Steven Davis celebrates scoring their first goal against Crystal Palace with teammates Action Images
Crystal Palace were once more plagued by profligacy as Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge ended in a 1-0 defeat to Southampton.
Steve Davis prodded the visitors in front early on after an awkward start by Palace.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek came close with a series of efforts but Christian Benteke and Jason Puncheon missed huge opportunities in either half as the hosts set a new record for the longest goalless start to the season.
It left Palace rock bottom – pointless – while Southampton rose to fifth in the Premier League table.
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Hodgson was only appointed on Tuesday night but his introduction could not have been more rough – the Eagles going behind on six minutes.
After Dusan Tadic worked some space and whipped in a cross, goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey punched the ball straight to Davis, who tucked home beyond Joel Ward on the goal line.
It couldn’t have been a worse start for the hosts who have been plagued by profligacy all season. In fact, much like the end of Frank de Boer’s four-game reign, Palace resorted to missing chances in bulk.
Benteke was the first culprit, the Belgium international somehow being denied by England goalkeeper Fraser Forster after Loftus-Cheek was slipped in by Andros Townsend.
Chelsea loanee Loftus-Cheek might have scored less than a minute later, but his header went wide before Yohan Cabaye drilled a long-range effort well beyond the goal.
Palace were struggling to seriously threaten in the first half, but Loftus-Cheek twice came close with efforts – the latter being a wonderful solo run which resulted in Ryan Bertrand making a match-saving block.
Moments after the interval, though, the Eagles should have been soaring. Jeffrey Schlupp was picked out down the left and found Jason Puncheon with his cross – but the winger was kept out by Forster who made another wonderful save, with the help of a tiny touch off Bertrand.
The hosts came flying out for the second half and that early save gave them an added impetus, but the visitors managed to negate that momentum.
Oriol Romeu almost secured the match for Mauricio Pellegrino’s men moments after Loftus-Cheek, who looked so influential for Hodgson’s side, was substituted off to groans from home fans.
Palace sought to carve out a further opportunity but the visiting side saw the game out expertly, with the assistance of Virgil van Dijk – who made his first appearance for the Saints in eight months.
And they may have wrapped the game up on 89 minutes had Cedric Soares not fired straight at Hennessey having cut into the box.