Red-hot Crystal Palace ease past sorry Southampton
Crystal Palace made it three wins from three under Roy Hodgson as Eberechi Eze’s double saw them beat Southampton at St Mary’s.
After a good first half from the home side, Palace kicked on in the second half and Eze followed up a simple finish with a stunning second goal as the Eagles eased to victory.
With the win Palace move on to 36 points and are all but safe from relegation.
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With a fourth defeat in their last five games, Southampton remain bottom of the table and are four points from safety. Ruben Selles and the Saints are running out of time in their race against relegation.
Saints going down with a whimper
Crystal Palace did not have to work hard for this victory. Southampton showed promise in the first half and Joe Aribo and Theo Walcott both had good chances to put them ahead. But for the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League, who have started without a recognized striker in their last two games, generating chances and taking them when they come has been a problem all season long. So has everything else. The way they folded in the second half was alarming. They never got going after the break and the ease with which they allowed Jordan Ayew to cross, plus the naivety of the mistake from Gavin Bazunu to tee up Eze for his first goal, was astonishing.
This is a team scrapping for their lives, who currently sit bottom of the table and were in the midst of a winnable home game against Palace. Watching this game, you would think Saints are 11th, have their flip flops on and have nothing left to play for this season. There was no urgency, no belief and no fight. The latter is a non-negotiable in the position Saints find themselves in. Somehow they are still just four points from safety with seven games to go but they have a ridiculously hard schedule remaining and there is little to suggest the Saints will do anything other than amble towards relegation between now and the end of the season. It is a sad sight to see a team give up their Premier League status in such dismal fashion.
Ruben Selles on playing without a striker
The Saints boss told reporters it “wouldn’t have made a difference” if they started with a striker as they’re without the injured Che Adams. “We will not make excuses that we are missing the situations. Of course, we need to be more relentless in our offensive actions but also in our defensive actions.”
Selles adds: “The difference at the end of the season will be a lot of things. Of course, we could have got more points against teams battling relegation... But if we are relegated, it will be because of a lot of things.”
Stars of the show; Southampton vs Crystal Palace player ratings
Eberechi Eze: Two goals and oozed class throughout. Seems so confident and comfortable on the ball.
Sam Johnstone: Made good stops in each half and has really taken his chance.
Southampton head to Arsenal on Friday, April 21. Crystal Palace host Everton on Saturday, April 22.
How to watch Southampton v Crystal Palace live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: PeacockOnline: Stream via Peacock Premium
FULL TIME: Southampton 0-2 Crystal Palace - An easy win for the Eagles. Saints gave up in the second half and look like they have accepted their fate.
POST! Michael Olise curls a free kick towards the top corner which clips the post and goes wide.
SAVE! Sam Johnstone with a good save to deny Armel Bella-Kotchap and then Paul Onuachu has a header which Johnstone saves.
POST! Oh, what bad luck for Southampton. Carlos Alcaraz has a shot from distance which hits the inside of the post and bounces back out. And moments later Alcaraz lashes a shot over. Southampton showing some kind of fight.
GOALLL! Southampton 0-2 Crystal Palace - Eberechi Eze with a stunning finish after a lovely turn for his and Palace’s second goal of the game. Magnificent goal.
Saints make two subs as Onuachu and Djenepo are on for Aribo and Walcott. Can those two spark something in attack? Southampton are about to get cut adrift at the bottom.
GOALLL! Southampton 0-1 Crystal Palace - Jordan Ayew’s cross is pushed straight out into the penalty box by Gavin Bazunu and Eberechi Eze finishes. Huge goal for Palace. Huge disappointment for Saints.
We are back underway and Palace have started the second half well. Roy Hodgson must have shared a few home truths in the away dressing room...
HALF TIME: Southampton 0-0 Crystal Palace - A tight first 45 minutes in the sun at St Mary’s. The best chances have come for the home side but Theo Walcott missed the best of them. Can Saints kick on in the second half? This game is there for the taking.
Crystal Palace are struggling to get on the ball and Southampton are pressing high and have had plenty of set-pieces. Both teams do look a little shy in the final third, though.
CHANCE! Another big chance for Saints as Theo Walcott is played in but he smashes off target from 10 yards out. Walcott has to hit the target. A huge chance for Southampton which they have not taken.
CHANCE! Big opportunity for Joe Aribo as a well-worked corner finds him 12 yards out. Lovely stuff from Ward-Prowse and Walcott to set that up. Proper training ground routine that.
KICK OFF: We are underway at St Mary’s and the home side have started well. Carlos Alcaraz has an effort which is saved comfortably by Sam Johnstone.
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Saints have improved defensively under Ruben Selles but where are the goals going to come from to keep them up? Now is the time to give his side more freedom as the former assistant (who has been placed in charge until the end of the season) has to be braver with his team selection. James Ward-Prowse has looked a shadow of himself in recent weeks as the pressure of the situation appears to be getting to him. Who can be Saints’ unlikely hero? Can any of their midfield or attacking players create the chances they need to try and keep them in the Premier League? Time is running out but their performance in the first 60 minutes against Man City will give them confidence. If they play like that each week until May 28 they could just stay up.
Palace will sit back, soak up pressure and launch counters just like they did against Leeds. Roy Hodgson has his teams do this so well and his coaching methods work well with this group of players. Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze ripped Leeds apart last week and they could do something similar to Southampton. Palace will want to grab a big win at St Mary’s to all but secure their Premier League status for another season and start the planning for next season to make sure they aren’t in this kind of situation again.
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Juan Larios (thigh), Valentino Livramento (hamstring), Che Adams (calf), Mohammed Salisu (knock), Mislav Orsic (hip)
Crystal Palace team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Wilfried Zaha (groin), Vicente Guaita (hamstring), Nathaniel Clyne (knee), Nathan Ferguson (undisclosed)