Christian Benteke had a day to forget as Mark Hughes finally left Selhurst Park with a win for the first time as a manager with a 2-0 victory.
Although the scoreboard was not changed throughout the first half, there was plenty of action that saw it threatened. Benteke saw a couple of clear chances that the Benteke of yesteryear would have gobbled up, headed wide of McCarthy’s goal. The Palace striker also had a penalty shout turned away by the referee, after being forced to the floor by Bertrand, as he waited for the ball to drop towards him.
Hennessey was certainly the busier of the two number ones, having to pull out several superb saves to deny the Saints from breaking the deadlock. Tipping over the bar a number of times preventing Redmond, Elyonoussi, and even a near Milivojevic own goal from putting the Eagles behind.
The Selhurst Park spectators didn’t have to wait long after the halftime break for some action, as the visitors took the lead. A cross from Cedric fell to the feet of Ings in the box, after it was missed by Sakho and Long as they challenged for it. The Saints striker, who passed a late fitness test, had the composure to slot the ball through the legs of Hennessey to put his side into the lead.
Palace looked to immediately level things up, but McArthur’s curling shot from outside the box could only beat McCarthy, but not the crossbar.
Hennessey was called into action once again, this time from the penalty spot. A deliberate handball from an Austin shot by Wan-Bissaka, on his return from suspension, meant that the Englishman had the chance to double the visitor’s lead. However, Hennessey denied the Saints once again by saving the spot kick with his legs, after diving the right way.
It was then the home side’s bar that was rattled as Elyonoussi’s shot crashed against the woodwork, after Redmond’s long distance shot was saved by Hennessey.
The hosts pursued in the attempt of grabbing a point, but as they pushed more players up, it was the visitors who struck to put the game past Palace. Two minutes into injury time, after numerous missed opportunities by Benteke in particular, Højberg broke free and found himself alone in the Palace half with just the keeper to beat. He easily rounded Hennessey to score his first Premier League goal, and killed off the Palace challenge, sealing the Saints first win of the season.
No Zaha, No Points
All the talk in the lead up to the game was about whether Southampton striker, Danny Ings, would feature at all after it came to light that he was struggling with a bad blister on his foot. However, the shock news on game day was that he was in the starting eleven, and it was actually the Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha who was absent, having suffered an abductor strain in training the day before.
It was the same old story from then on for Palace fans, as they watched their side fall to another defeat in a game where Zaha hasn’t featured. The last time the side from South London did get all three points in the league, without the attacking threat of Zaha, was back in September 2016, when they beat Sunderland 3-2 at the Stadium of Light.
Since then, they have gone on a winless run of twelve games, including today’s result. The extent of Zaha’s injury is currently unknown, but with a record like that, and having now lost three out of the four games this season, Palace will be hoping the two week international break will be a long enough recovery.
A Tale of Two Keepers
As you may have noticed, both keepers were very busy today, with eleven saves made between them. Both showcased that you don’t have to spent over £70 million to have a goalkeeper that will either win you a game, or pull out a performance to keep your side in it.
Hennessey seemed like the busier of the two for most of the game, as he tried his best to keep his side in the game. The Saints were not shy in having long shots, but the Welshman matched them all when tipping shots over the bar, and saving the penalty from Austin. It was the first penalty that he has saved in a Palace shirt, having seen the previous ten fly past him.
McCarthy will be the happier of the two as he returned to his former club with a point to prove. Having been unable to cement a place in the Palace goal, falling behind Hennessey and Speroni in the pecking order, he left for the south coast in the summer of 2016, and kept four clean sheets last season. With Palace players baring down on his goal in the latter stages of the game, his saves proved vital in allowing all three points to make their way down south.
Benteke’s Lost His Head
A few seasons ago, if there was one thing that you could be certain of, it was that if Benteke got his head on the ball in the box, it was a certain goal. Defenders would dread coming up against him in his days at Villa Park, as they knew it would be an almost impossible task trying to win a header against him. After all, 25 of his 69 Premier League goals have come from headers.
The same can still be said today, however, the keeper no longer needs to worry as Benteke can no longer score with his head. The big Belgian striker missed at least four clear chances to score from headers alone.
He has now only scored once in his last 16 Premier League games, and that goal was a penalty gifted to him in the 90th minute when Palace were 4-0 up against Leicester. With Sørloth scoring his first competitive goal for Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup game against Swansea, it is surely only a matter of time before he gets his chance ahead of the misfiring Belgian.
Man of the Match: Danny Ings
After passing a late fitness test, he showed what a threat that many had forgotten during his time at Liverpool, finding himself in the right place to score his second of the season