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Crystal palace

      Report: Dominant Palace held by first-half Saints flourish

      Crystal Palace
      Zaha 2'
      Ayew 65'
      Ward-Prowse 32'
      Broja 36'

      Crystal Palace enjoyed spells of absolute dominance over Southampton on Wednesday evening, but the visitors' strong end to the first-half saw Patrick Vieira's men forced to contend with a point.


      • Patrick Vieira makes one change to the lineup which faced Everton, starting Jack Butland

      • The home side take an emphatic lead just two minutes in through Wilfried Zaha

      • James Tomkins has a chance to make it two but Willy Caballero blocks his close-range shot

      • Zaha feeds Odsonne Edouard in the middle, but the Frenchman pushes the ball narrowly wide

      • James Ward-Prowse levels through a 20-yard free-kick

      • Armando Broja makes it two shortly after with a long-range strike

      • Half-time: Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton

      • Palace put Southampton under sustained pressure to open the second-half, with Odsonne Edouard forcing Caballero into a strong double save

      • The home side finally break through after a lengthy period on top; Jordan Ayew striking in on the rebound from a tight angle

      • Southampton force the game to a better balance, and the game ends in a tense deadlock

      • Full-time: Crystal Palace 2-2 Southampton

      If there were any concerns Palace might start slowly just three days after their high-tempo triumph over Everton, Wilfried Zaha put them to bed immediately.

      Just two minutes into the game Will Hughes made a crunching halfway-line challenge which set Jordan Ayew on the path forward. The Ghanaian found Odsonne Edouard, who spread play to Zaha on the left of the box.

      As he has so frequently, the No.11 then cut inside, shimmied slightly and pulled the trigger: firing hard into the net from 12 yards out.

      No frontline could be more energised than one which bags moments after kick-off, but the early goal gave Palace’s attack a sense of assurance; the hosts could have made it two inside 10 minutes when James Tomkins struck a rebounding free-kick into Willy Caballero’s legs.

      After the initial recoil from Palace’s breathless opener Southampton began to ease into the game, and created a handful of half-chances: Armando Broja headed into Jack Butland’s hands and Nathan Tella shot far too high at the end of a dangerous break.

      Oriol Romeu’s speculative shot from 30 yards encapsulated Southampton’s first chances: promising at first but not enough to trouble Butland on his second appearance this season. So the bulk of truly quality opportunities remained with Palace, and another fell their way when Edouard toed just wide after some smart link-up play between Zaha and Tyrick Mitchell on the left.

      But Saints’ moment soon came, with the visiting side awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. James Ward-Prowse stepped up and struck in shortly after the half-hour mark.

      The goal sparked a dominant spell for Southampton, and they capitalised on it swiftly when Broja fired home on the break from a similar distance to Ward-Prowse.

      Palace appeared unsettled by the pair of goals and knew getting to half-time would be the crucial next step. They did so, despite the visitors’ best efforts, to ensure the second-half saw them still within touching distance of regaining their initial pomp.

      Palace returned to the pitch on a surer footing, beginning to test Southampton again along the left flank, where Zaha and Gallagher both received the ball in promising positions.

      Ayew looked alert on the right as well, and created space for himself where he held up the ball under pressure to clear congestion on the opposite wing. When the chance arose, Palace would then switch play with speed - with Southampton’s defence readjusting equally fast.

      Their pressure almost bore fruit when Edouard broke through the backline and fired at Caballero from point-blank range; twice however the ‘keeper made himself big and blocked the ball impressively.

      The home side needed to reload to make the most of their dominance, and thankfully Patrick Vieira had a trio of silver bullets on the bench.

      He fired the first – Christian Benteke – after 64 minutes, switching to 4-4-2 to increase the strain on Southampton’s backline. The shot hit its target immediately.

      The ball pinged from threat to threat as Zaha found Edouard in the box for the striker to force a one-two with Benteke before striking goalbound. Caballero made a reflexive save, but the ball ran loose in the box. Racing to take advantage, Ayew squeezed it in from a tight angle to bag a richly deserved equaliser.

      With five minutes remaining the game found a tense but even rhythm: both sides created few chances while keeping one another under pressure.

      Palace were driven as ever by a passionate home crowd and seemed resolved to find a late winner, but by full-time were left to contend with a point determined by a strong visiting spell in the first-half.

      Palace: Butland, Mitchell, Tomkins (Andersen 81), Guéhi, Ward, Kouyaté (Benteke 64), Hughes, Gallagher, Zaha, Ayew (Olise 75), Edouard.

      Subs not used: Guaita, Clyne, Milivojević, Schlupp, Riedewald, Eze.

      Southampton: Caballero, Walker-Peters, Lynaco, Romeu, Livramento, Tella (Walcott 82), Smallbone (Djenepo 70), Ward-Prowse, Redmond, Salisu, Broja (Long 70).

      Subs not used: Lewis, Bednarek, Perraud, Diallo, Elyounoussi, Valery.