Danny Ings returned from injury with two goals as Southampton came from behind to beat Crystal Palace 3-1 in an entertaining game at St Mary’s.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes from the side who were beaten by Liverpool last time out. In came loan signing Takumi Minamino for Ibrahima Diallo whilst Danny Ings returned from a hamstring injury to join Che Adams up front at the expense of Theo Walcott.
Action packed first-half:
An end-of-season contest, with both teams safe from relegation, a tight fixture schedule, and nothing but pride to play for. This game had all the ingredients for one of the less entertaining games of the Premier League season. But, fortunately, this couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It was the away side who started quickest. A long free kick caught out the Saints defenders within the first few minutes of the game. Scott Dann won the initial flick on and it was Christian Benteke who responded quickest to find space between the Saints defenders and fire an emphatic effort home. His rather unorthodox celebration followed.
From one striker showing his class to another just 15 minutes later. This time it was Danny Ings who levelled the scores. His classy first touch from a Nathan Redmond cross enabled him to find space in the Palace box before he finessed a shot into the bottom corner of Vicente Guaita’s goal. 1-1 inside 20 minutes.
Following this, it was the Saints who piled on the pressure and looked the side most likely to take the lead before half-time. Two shots in quick succession from Nathan Redmond and Che Adams were saved well by Guaita.
But it was the visitors who had the best chance of heading into the break a goal to the good. A clumsy challenge from Nathan Redmond on the skilful Wilfred Zaha led to a penalty for Palace. Up stepped the, usually reliable, Palace captain Luka Milivojevic but his spot-kick was well saved by Fraser Forster in the Saints net.
Saints control second half to earn all three points:
Heading into the second half and the game was finely balanced between these well-matched sides. You almost felt like whichever manager got his team fired up more during the break was going to reap the rewards of going home with all three points.
Thankfully for Saints fans, that side was Southampton. Less than 5 minutes into the half a clever set-piece routine saw the Saints go into the lead for the first time in the game. James Ward-Prowse pulled his corner back to the edge of the box for Stuart Armstrong to sweep on towards the back post. All the ball needed was a slight touch to find the net and that was provided by the alert Che Adams.
Now with the game in their hands, and the knowledge that they were safe from relegation, Southampton started to relax and play some nice football that fans were used to seeing at the start of the season. They never looked like losing the game from here.
15 minutes from time and Southampton added a third. The front two of Che Adams and Danny Ings combined once more with the former playing an inch perfect through ball for the latter to poke home from 10 yards out. 3 goals and 3 points to reward an impressive Southampton performance. This, the Saints’ first win in 5 games, ends a run of bad form which had seen them drop as low as 17th in the league.
With this win the Saints now climb back up to 14th in the Premier League table. They’ll be looking to string a run of form together at the end of this ever-inconsistent season with their next test against the already relegated Fulham on Saturday afternoon.
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was impressed with his sides attacking play in the second half and hopes it can continue for the last few games of the season.
‘We could have scored even more. We tried to move them around and they had big problems with our attacking stuff.’
‘2020 was fantastic and 2021 so far not, it is now time to turn it around and have a promising ending.We will not forget what problems we have and to try to solve them in the summer – we have a small squad and need more players’.
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 3-1 Crystal Palace (Ings 19′,75′, Adams 48′) (Benteke 2′)
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard (booked), Bednarek (booked) (Salisu 45′), Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Armstrong, Minamino, Ings (Obefemi 76′), Adams. Unused subs: McCarthy, Djenepo, Tella, Diallo, Walcott, N’Lundulu, Ferry.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Dann, Kouyate (booked), Mitchell, Milivojevic (Schlupp 65′), Eze, Riedewald, Ayew (booked) (Batshuayi 72′), Zaha (booked), Benteke (Mateta 78′). Unused subs: Butland, Van Aanholt, Townsend, McCarthy, Cahill, Kelly.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Danny Ings (Southampton)
Referee: Andy Madley