Southampton 3 Crystal Palace 1: Winning run ends as Sam Allardyce's side throw away lead

Tom Prentki
The Telegraph
The two Sams weren't happy on the touchline - PA
The two Sams weren't happy on the touchline - PA

Well Sam, it had to end some time. Crystal Palace’s winning run came to a juddering halt at St Mary’s as Southampton eased clear of the relegation zone but left the Eagles in the midst of the dog-fight.

Allardyce had never lost a Premier League game at St Mary’s and Southampton had only won five at home all season so the former England manager will again have fancied his chances.

But in truth, the margin of victory would have been greater, but for Shane Long missing four excellent chances for Claude Puel’s men.

Long almost scored after 35 second after latching onto Redmond’s clever pass and pulling his low shot inches wide of the far post.

The Irishman caused plenty of problems for the Eagles but lacked composure at the most crucial moments.

In the 10th minute the Ireland striker fired wastefully off target as he snatched at a wonderful pass from James Ward-Prowse.

Southampton 0 - 1 Crystal Palace (Christian Benteke, 31 min)

Palace were in retreat but came close from a set-piece when Luka Milivojevic, the midfielder so impressive in the victory at Stamford Bridge, curled his free-kick just wide of the target.

Saints supporters must be getting sick of reports linking their players with other clubs as the summer transfer window nears.

Portuguese right-back Cedric Soares is rumoured to be a target of both Chelsea and Barcelona and he provided a superb cross for Redmond whose far post header looked to have put Southampton ahead before Wayne Hennessey tipped it wide at full stretch.

Another defender who may be Chelsea bound is Virgil Van Dijk who has been missing with a broken foot since January.

His replacement, Jack Stephens has shown increasing composure but fell victim to Christian Benteke’s brilliant nutmeg as Palace finally began to show some intent.

Wilfried Zaha, himself the subject of transfer talk, received Benteke’s knock down moments later and fired at goal, only for Oriol Romeu to deflect over.

<span>Nathan Redmond scores Southampton's equaliser</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
Nathan Redmond scores Southampton's equaliser Credit: Reuters

The Saints couldn’t hold out and fell victim to a brilliant Palace counter attack which culminated in Jason Puncheon feeding Andros Townsend, whose low cross was lashed home by Benteke.

Southampton, not yet safe from relegation, were growing increasingly frustrated.

Puel leapt from his dugout as his team had two penalty claims turned away in the final minutes of the half.

The first after the ball struck Jeffrey Schlupp’s hand and then again when Long went down under the challenge of Martin Kelly.

In the midst of the protests the home side drew level. Saints captain Steven Davis barged Zaha out of possession before crossing for Redmond, again stationed at the far post, where his shot bobbled in through a crowd of bodies.

Southampton vs Crystal Palace shots on goal

Zaha, making his 250th appearance for Palace, left the field at half-time being restrained from confronting Roger East by his teammates whilst chants of ‘you’re not fit to referee’ rang out from the home crowd.

Redmond was Southampton’s most dangerous attacking threat and pulled the ball across goal for Ward-Prowse whose shot was blocked by Mamadou Sakho with Cedric firing the rebound wide.

If Long had the finishing to match his pace and movement, then he too may have left Southampton for a more prestigious destination.

His third chance came and went as he ran on to Tadic’s pass only to chip the ball over Hennessey, onto the roof of the net.

<span>Maya Yoshida wheels away after putting Southampton in front</span> <span>Credit: Rex Features </span>
Maya Yoshida wheels away after putting Southampton in front Credit: Rex Features

The pendulum then swung briefly back in Palace’s direction as Martin Kelly struck the near post after Benteke’s knock-down.

Then, the same combination of Tadic and Long brought the same result with Saints’ 30 year-old striker this time being prevented at close range by Hennessey.

Davis looked to have won it as he struck Tadic’s cross at goal but was blocked firstly by Sakho and then Damien Delaney as Palace stood firm.

Finally they got the goal they deserved through Japanese defender Maya Yoshida who tapped home at the far post after good work from Redmond.

The result was sealed moments later as Tadic fed Cedric who crossed for Ward-Prowse to smash home at close range to give Saints their first home win since January.

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