Thursday 8 December 2016

Long and Austin shine for Southampton

Southampton 2 Crystal Palace 0

Jeremy Wilson

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Crystal Palace's Martin Kelly fouls Southampton's Shane Long, leading to a penalty. Photo: Reuters
Crystal Palace's Martin Kelly fouls Southampton's Shane Long, leading to a penalty. Photo: Reuters

Having waited almost five weeks for a first win, Claude Puel's third victory in six days was greeted with the sort of animated fist-pumping more readily associated with Alan Pardew in the opposite dugout. Southampton's quiet man is slowly turning up the volume after a near-perfect week.

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Having waited almost five weeks for a first win, Claude Puel's third victory in six days was greeted with the sort of animated fist-pumping more readily associated with Alan Pardew in the opposite dugout. Southampton's quiet man is slowly turning up the volume after a near-perfect week.

Charlie Austin also scored his fourth goal in those three games, even if it was again the team play of Shane Long that really created the space and opportunities. Crystal Palace, by contrast, were utterly insipid, with their performance summed by the travelling fans' ironic chant of 'We've had a shot' after Yohan Cabaye smashed an 84th-minute volley closer to the corner flag than the goal.

Alex McCarthy made a rare start for Southampton against the club he left during the summer but the goalkeeping action was just about all in the Palace penalty area. Southampton eventually took the lead in the 33rd minute following a dreadful piece of defending by Martin Kelly. He had only been on the pitch after Scott Dann was forced off injured on his 100th Palace appearance but lost control of the ball and then, in a rash desire to make amends, lunged into the heels of Long. Austin calmly side-footed the penalty past Wayne Hennessey.

There was then a flurry of Southampton attacks. Long outmuscled Ezekiel Fryers to provide an excellent chance for Austin, and also missed an even clearer opportunity himself. Having done the hard work and taken the ball around Hennessey, Long scuffed an attempted left-footed finish that allowed Damien Delaney to clear.

Palace began the second half with rather more purpose and took control of possession without creating any clear chances. And when Puel introduced Nathan Redmond in the 57th minute, Palace were punished. Long again broke clear on goal and, while his shot was parried by Hennessey, the rebound fell into the path of Hesketh, who doubled the lead with his first goal.

Southampton's Charlie Austin celebrates scoring their first goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Reuters
Southampton's Charlie Austin celebrates scoring their first goal from the penalty spot. Photo: Reuters

Pardew responded by bringing on Christian Benteke and Jason Puncheon. Puncheon's arrival was a source of particular amusement to the Southampton fans who will never forget how the midfielder went down in club folklore for an emergency toilet break during Mauricio Pochettino's first match as manager in 2013. And he was unable to produce anything more notable here as Southampton held out. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Southampton's James Ward-Prowse (right) and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha tussle for space. Photo: PA
Southampton's James Ward-Prowse (right) and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha tussle for space. Photo: PA
Southampton's Jordy Clasie in action with Crystal Palace's Zeki Fryers. Picture: Reuters
Southampton's Jordy Clasie in action with Crystal Palace's Zeki Fryers. Picture: Reuters

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