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Match Reports

Report: Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace

2 January 2018

Luka Milivojevic atoned for his injury-time penalty miss two days earlier by firing home an excellent winner to help Palace recover from a goal down to beat Southampton.

The Eagles registered their first top-flight win at the home of the Saints since November 1990 thanks to the Serbian’s strike 10 minutes from time that extended Roy Hodgson’s side’s unbeaten away record to five matches, equalling their best ever run in the Premier League.

That looked to be in jeopardy when Shane Long opened the scoring during a drab first half, but after the break James McArthur netted from close range to spark the comeback, before Milivojevic completed it to kick-off 2018 in the perfect fashion for all of a red and blue perspective.

Despite not tasting victory for eight games, the hosts started much the brighter and looked fresher for their extra day’s rest, with the Eagles forced to play just over 48 hours after drawing against Manchester City, and so all the early sights of goal fell to Mauricio Pellegrino’s team.

Not much more than 10 seconds had elapsed when Long was found by Sofiane Boufal and curled just over the top before Dusan Tadic suffered the same fate a minute later, but after a quarter of an hour Wayne Hennessey required all of his 6’7” frame to tip over an arrowing shot by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg as the Eagles defence creaked.

And just 60 seconds later, the pressure told. Ryan Bertrand got to the left byline and flung a cross into the box that evaded everyone but was received by his fellow full-back Jeremy Pied on the opposite flank. With the south coast wind swirling, he opted to play a low centre towards the penalty spot where Long was on hand to drill home his first goal since February and end his lengthy goal drought.

It took Palace half an hour to force ex-Eagle Alex McCarthy into a meaningful save when, in an attempt to get his side going, Andros Townsend fired goalwards from 30 yards and forced the Saints stopper to edge his bouncing blast past the post, but despite improving their possession and territory stats in the final stages of the half, that was as good as things got for Hodgson’s team before they retreated to the shelter of the changing rooms.

But after the restart Palace continued in the same vein and had the majority of the play, and that allowed them to carve out a great chance on 64 minutes when Wilfried Zaha found Christian Benteke in the area whose shot on the turn skidded along the slick turf and tested McCarthy who produced a good low one-handed stop, however they weren’t to be denied four minutes later when they conjured up a fine equaliser.

After winning a free-kick on the left, Patrick van Aanholt’s delivery was headed out to Townsend who clipped it back into the danger area, and after Benteke rose highest to nod it on into space, McArthur was primed to blast the ball high into the net and score his sixth goal of the campaign, making him the Eagles’ top scorer this term.

Having been the better of the sides for the majority of the game, Palace didn’t look content with their point and Milivojevic nearly turned home after a free-kick wasn’t properly cleared, but his moment would come with 10 minutes to go as, donning the captain’s armband for the first time, he turned the game on its head.

After the ball was played forward, Bakary Sako did well to hold it up and find Townsend on the right flank, who spotted the run of the Serbian. He in turn played a pass for Milivojevic to run onto, who produced an exquisite first-time shot from 25 yards that curled into the bottom corner of the helpless McCarthy’s goal and send the travelling Palace fans crazy.

The victory could have been sealed late on when a Hennessey clearance caught the strong wind and sailed over the Saints backline to give Zaha a shooting chance but he wildly blazed over, but Palace held firm to see out the final few minutes and clinch another massive three points.

Southampton: McCarthy, Pied, Stephens, Yoshida, Bertrand, Romeu, Hojbjerg (Gabbiadini 75), Ward-Prowse (Davis 70), Tadic (Redmond 80), Boufal, Long. Subs not used: Forster, Targett, Bednarek, Lemina.

Palace: Hennessey, Fosu-Mensah, Kelly, Tomkins, Schlupp (Sako 64), Townsend, McArthur, Milivojevic, Cabaye (Van Aanholt 46), Zaha, Benteke. Subs not used: Speroni, Souare, Delaney, Riedewald, Lee.


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