Goals from Charlie Austin and Jake Hesketh saw Palace’s interest in the EFL Cup end at the third round as they were beaten at St Mary’s.
On a disappointing night for the Eagles, their exit at the hands of the Saints was compounded by Scott Dann being forced off injured early in proceedings, before Austin fired home a penalty just after the half-hour mark.
After Wayne Hennessey had helped his side stay in the tie by making a number of saves, he was beaten for a second time when Hesketh netted a rebound after another such stop by the Welshman and saw Saints gain cup revenge over the Eagles, who had won at the venue twice in the FA Cup in successive seasons.
A cagey start saw little in the way of goalmouth action until the 12th minute when Connor Wickham saw a header from a corner deflect wide off Jose Fonte, but the Eagles suffered a major blow four minutes later when Dann, on the occasion of his 100th appearance for Palace, pulled up chasing a through-ball by Cuco Martina and limped from the field with a suspected hamstring strain.
The bad news kept coming the visitors’ way though when on 32 minutes the Saints were awarded a penalty. Another dangerous ball into space by Martina allowed Shane Long to dart onto the end of it, and Dann’s replacement Martin Kelly’s attempt at a tackle brought the Republic of Ireland striker down in the box, allowing Austin to coolly slide the ball in the opposite direction to Hennessey’s dive from 12 yards to score his fourth goal in seven days.
Boosted by being in possession of the lead, Southampton began to dominate proceedings and two minutes later the Welsh goalie was called into action again when he managed to claw a header from Hesketh away from his bottom corner following Matt Targett’s cross, and Austin should have done better when Long scampered in front of Zeki Fryers to cut the ball back into his strike partner’s path but the goalscorer shanked his half-volley horridly off target.
There was a brief respite for Palace when Yohan Cabaye curled an effort just wide, but the Saints went straight up the other end and the dangerous Austin found himself in on goal again when Hesketh’s precise pass allowed him to escape behind the backline, but Hennessey’s outstretched hand brilliantly denied him his brace, and a minute later Martina was next to try his luck but shot narrowly wide from a tight angle.
In first half stoppage time it was so nearly 2-0 when yet again another pass into space saw the pacey Long get on the end of it and round Hennessey, but his attempted at finding the empty net lacked the required strength and Damien Delaney managed to scramble back and hook the ball away from danger as the visitors escaped into the break just the one goal behind.
However on 64 minutes the second did arrive. Having quietened the hosts after the restart, Southampton suddenly sprung into life when James Ward-Prowse was allowed to bring the ball into the Eagles’ half and once again utilised Long’s pace. The striker drifted in behind Joel Ward and got a shot away, which was well saved by Hennessey but the rebound came to Hesketh who drilled home his maiden career goal, allowing him to celebrate for the first time.
The game petered out as a contest at that point, although Hennessey made another smart stop to add to his collection when he got down to tip away a bending attempt by substitute Nathan Redmond as the Saints marched on to round four.
Southampton: McCarthy, Martina, Yoshida, Fonte, Targett, Clasie, Ward-Prowse, Reed, Hesketh (Hojbjerg 77), Austin (Redmond 57), Long (Tadic 88). Subs not used: Lewis, Stephens, Soares, Davis.
Palace: Hennessey, Ward, Dann (Kelly 19), Delaney, Fryers, Cabaye, Mutch (Puncheon 69), Sako (C. Benteke 64), Lee, Zaha, Wickham. Subs not used: Speroni, Flamini, Townsend, Campbell.