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Match Reports

Match Report : 03/12/2016

3 December 2016


A brace from Christian Benteke and a James Tomkins goal helped Crystal Palace win their first game in eight attempts as they cruised to victory against Southampton.

Memories of six defeats in a row evaporated into the skies above Selhurst alongside weeks of frustration as Alan Pardew’s men produced a fine display, which was punctuated with a first clean sheet of the season as the Saints were put to the sword.

Finally receiving a bit of luck after months of misfortune, the Eagles were gifted the opener when Benteke pounced on a costly error by Fraser Forster on 33 minutes and Tomkins followed up with a second just minute later, before the Belgian hitman added his seventh of the campaign to secure a long-overdue taste of success.

The first 17 minutes were devoid of notable events as both sides began tentatively but eventually some quick feet from Sofiane Boufal saw him skip along the touchline and cut the ball back, and after it was cleared into the path of Ryan Bertrand his shot deflected off Joe Ledley and rippled the side-netting.

After calmly dealing with a couple of corners, Palace then began an attack of their own which saw Benteke steer a Wilfried Zaha cross wide with his head, but just before the half-hour mark, the birthday boy was handed a gift by Forster to allow him the easiest of ways to net his first goal at Selhurst Park for the Eagles.

There seemed to be no danger when Jose Fonte played a simple pass back to the England shot-stopper, but as he went to strike it downfield, the ball bobbled and caused the goalkeeper to miss it completely, allowing the Benteke to capitalise on his howler and tap-in from a couple of yards.

That unexpected opportunity lifted the mood around the ground and just three minutes later the Eagles suddenly found themselves two goals ahead. After winning a corner at the Whitehorse Lane end, Jason Puncheon sent it in towards the front post where a clever flick from Ledley deceived the Saints defence, and Tomkins was in the perfect spot to score from close-range for the second successive weekend.

Palace managed to take their significant advantage into the break intact despite Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg fizzing a half-volley just wide of the mark seconds before the half-time whistle sounded, but needing a quiet second half just to secure a precious win and secure a maiden shut-out, a more-defensive minded Palace got just that in the second half.

Southampton began on top and just a couple of minutes after the restart Nathan Redmond slalomed past two players before standing a cross up to the back post, but Boufal made a hash of his first-time effort and skied a good chance.

The Saints began pushing hard for a goal that would bring them back into the game but were failing to trouble Wayne Hennessey sufficiently, with Cedric Soares the next player to smash an attempt into the stands with a long-ranger, and after being introduced around the hour mark Josh Sims wasn’t too far away from finding the top corner with a curling effort but the teenager also missed the mark.

The hosts failed to produce a decent shot on target during the first half of the second 45 with their only chance coming when Andros Townsend jinked inside and blasted over, but there was a scare for Pardew’s men on 78 minutes when their goalframe was rattled following a spot of head-tennis broke out in the box after a corner, and Virgil van Dijk nodded onto the top of the crossbar before the danger was cleared.

But with minutes to go, the long-awaited win was wrapped up by Benteke. Puncheon sent in a corner which was cleared to James McArthur who controlled with his chest and shot towards goal. It was blocked but spun into Puncheon’s path, who simply squared for Benteke to slide home and trigger some long-awaited celebrations in SE25.

Palace: Hennessey, Tomkins (Kelly 89), Delaney, Dann, Ward, McArthur (Flamini 89), Ledley, Zaha, Puncheon, Townsend (Sako 80), C. Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Fryers, Lee, Campbell.

Southampton: Fraser, Soares, van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand, Ward-Prowse, Romeu, Hojbjerg (Sims 59), Boufal (Long 77), Redmond, Austin (McQueen 77). Subs not used: Taylor, Yoshida, Clasie, Davis.

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