Southampton displayed a dominating performance at Selhurst Park to secure their fourth successive away victory in the Premier League, continuing their recent rise into the top half of the table.
Hoping to bounce back from defeat to Wolves just three days earlier, Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes to his side with Jannik Vestergaard replacing the injured Jan Bednarek whilst Micheal Obafemi returned to the starting XI for the first time since Boxing Day, as top scorer Danny Ings dropped to the bench.
The Saints were on the receiving end of a second-half blitz from Wolves on the weekend, but they showed no ill-effects from that result as they dominated Crystal Palace from start to finish. Palace failed to have a shot on target during the game but did create the first meaningful chance after 18 minutes following hesitant play from Vestergaard. Indecisiveness on the ball allowed Jordan Ayew to dispossess the Dane and set up Cenk Tosun who, with only the goalkeeper to beat, blazed his shot glaringly over the bar.
This was as good as it got for the Eagles as two minutes later, Southampton took the lead after a stunning strike from Nathan Redmond, his third league goal of the season. Jack Stephens brought the ball out from defense before spotting the run of Redmond, who shook off the Palace defenders and fired a venomous shot past Vicente Guaita into the top left corner of the goal.
Southampton ramped up the pressure after the goal and could have doubled their lead 5 minutes later, as a cross from Ryan Bertrand set up a first time shot from Stuart Armstrong, which this time was tipped over by the Palace keeper. Despite losing fullback Cedric Soares through injury after just 20 minutes, the away side continued to cause problems and create chances from the wide areas. This was demonstrated again in the 31st minute when Armstrong received a pass from the influential Redmond, before unleashing a low driven shot which went just wide of the post.
Palace were perhaps fortunate to have 11 men on the pitch to start the second half as Wilfried Zaha seemingly poked the eye of James Ward Prowse as the two teams walked towards the tunnel for half-time. A VAR review showed the confrontation between the two players however officials in Stockley Park deemed the incident to be non-punishable.
The decision did little to change the fortunes for the hosts as the Saints deservedly doubled their lead within 3 minutes of the restart. This time, Redmond turned provider as from 25 yards, he found Stuart Amstrong in a central position who followed up with a wonderful curling finish into the bottom corner with the inside of his right foot.
The home side improved after the break but were unable to apply any sort of pressure on Alex McCarthy as Southampton eased to yet another away win. They came closest to a 3rd goal when Shane Long was guilty of missing a glorious chance on the hour mark. The striker did well to win the ball high up the pitch but when he was subsequently put through by Obafemi, his shot from the edge of the box was hit straight at Guaita.
The win never seemed in doubt for Hassenhuttl’s side, who now for only the second time in their history, have claimed four successive away wins in the Premier League. The result means that Southampton leapfrog Palace and rise to ninth in the table.
Ralph Hasenhuttl spoke to Match of the Day after the game:
I think it was one of our best performances of the season. It’s not so easy to win here. Especially with the ball in the first half, we were absolutely fantastic – very flexible and hard to defend against.
We created a lot of chances but it was only 1-0 at half-time. In the second half it was important that we did not make the same mistakes as we did against Wolves, but we were very clinical and came up with a beautiful goal from Stuart [Armstrong].
Southampton next host Tottenham in the 4th round of the FA Cup on Saturday, before returning to Premier League duty on 1 February with a trip to Anfield.