Southampton’s comfortable win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was their best away performance of the season, according to manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong both scored fine goals as the Saints secured their fourth successive away victory in the Premier League.
Redmond opened the scoring midway through the first half as he turned away from two markers before firing home from the edge of the box.
Armstrong then doubled his side’s lead early in the second half when he collected Redmond’s pass and curled in a superb effort from outside the area.
Following a lacklustre first half, the Eagles did improve after the break although they failed to put the Saints under sustained pressure, and Southampton held on for a deserved three points.
“Today, especially with the ball, was perhaps our best away performance [of the season],” Hasenhuttl said.
“We were unbelievably good in the first half. Quick moving, creating a lot of chances – I can’t believe it was only 1-0.
“In the second half we showed that we can stay concentrated for 90 minutes. To get a clean sheet here is good and to win here is not easy.
“We wanted a reaction from Saturday so the team was very focused. I’m enjoying the moment. Our turnaround has been unbelievable and we feel that we can win games from the first moment. We are very happy.”
It is only the second time the South Coast club have claimed four Premier League away wins on the bounce – with the previous run coming between December 2014 and February 2015.
Victory for Hasenhuttl’s side means they move above Palace into ninth – with Roy Hodgson’s side slipping to 11th.
Saints’ fine form continues
It was only a month or so ago that Southampton were being tipped by many for the drop, but the win at Selhurst Park moves them into the top half of the league for the first time this season – and on this performance they fully deserve it.
After a disappointing defeat by Wolves on Saturday, they were back to their bustling best on Tuesday night as they dominated for long periods.
Hasenhuttl’s men were a constant threat down the left, with the Eagles unable to deal with the pace and trickery of Redmond, nor the overlapping Ryan Bertrand.
They dominated in the middle, too, even after James Ward-Prowse’s move to right-back following Cedric Soares’ first-half withdrawal due to injury.
And after Redmond opened the scoring with a brilliant finish, they rarely looked back, with Armstrong testing Palace keeper Vicente Guaita several times before eventually beating him early in the second half.
Shane Long, who kept his place in the starting line-up after scoring against Wolves, could have made the result safe on the hour mark, too, had he shot either side of Guaita when sent clear by the lively Michael Obafemi.
But ultimately it did not matter for Southampton, who comfortably held off late Eagles pressure for their fifth Premier League win in seven games.
Eagles fall flat on feisty night
The Eagles should have been flying high after holding reigning champions Manchester City to a draw on Saturday, but if they did gain any momentum from that result they failed to carry it into Tuesday’s game.
Palace were flat for much of the first half, much to the frustration of the boisterous home crowd, with January arrival Cenk Tosun blasting over their only chance of the opening 45 minutes.
While they did improve after the break, with Wilfried Zaha trying his best to prise open a stubborn Saints backline, they rarely tested Alex McCarthy in the visitors’ goal.
In fact, they failed to take any shots on target at all, with second-half substitute Connor Wickham summing up his side’s evening with two spurned chances late on.
However, despite the Eagles’ uninspiring efforts, the match did carry a feisty feel throughout, with the players perhaps harbouring grudges from their previous Premier League meeting just 24 days ago.
There was a flashpoint after the half-time whistle which saw Zaha poke Ward-Prowse in the face before the pair were separated by team-mates and stewards.
And tempers flared between James Tomkins and Redmond following a tangle as the match drew to a close.
Man of the match – James Ward-Prowse (Southampton)
‘We were absolutely fantastic’ – what they said
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl speaking to BBC MOTD: “It’s not so easy to win here. Especially with the ball in the first half, we were absolutely fantastic – very flexible and hard to defend against.
“We created a lot of chances but it was only 1-0 at half-time. In the second half it was important that we did not make the same mistakes as we did against Wolves, but we were very clinical and came up with a beautiful goal from Stuart [Armstrong].”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson speaking to BBC MOTD: “We were a long way below our standards. Southampton played extremely well. I think it was a game too far for us. We have been battling with the same group of players. We have had tough games, battled through brilliantly, but that all caught up with us today and we deserved to lose the game because Southampton were the better team.
“The players were determined in the second half to do something about it but when the second goal went in that gave us a mountain to climb. We would have had to produce some fantastic football and find a way of combating what we couldn’t combat in the first half.”
Eagles midfielder James McCarthy on Sky Sports: “We weren’t at it today. It was disappointing. Not good enough. We went to the champions on Saturday and put in a hell of a performance but tonight we wanted to win the game and push on.
“Unfortunately we were not at the races. We have a lot of injuries. Maybe the boss would have been happy to have made a few changes but no point making excuses. Today, each and every one of us didn’t perform. As a squad and a team we know we are a lot better than that.”
Toothless Eagles fail to hit target again – the stats
- Crystal Palace failed to direct a single shot on target in a Premier League game for the second time this season, with only Newcastle failing to hit the target in more games in 2019-20 (3).
- Only Wolves (16) have conceded the first goal of the game more often in the Premier League this season than Crystal Palace (14).
- Southampton have won 65% of their Premier League points in away games this season (20/31), the highest such ratio in the division.
- After seeing all 48 of the goals in their Premier League games this season prior to this match come from inside the box (F22 A26), Crystal Palace conceded two goals from outside the box against Southampton.
- Only against Watford (four) has Southampton’s Nathan Redmond scored more in the Premier League than he has against Crystal Palace (three).
- Stuart Armstrong has scored in consecutive away Premier League games for the Saints (two goals), netting as many goals as he managed in his previous 25 on the road.
- Southampton’s Nathan Redmond scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the third time ever and the first time since December 2018 against Huddersfield.
Southampton will host Tottenham in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday (25 January, 15:00 GMT) before returning to Premier League action the following Saturday (1 February) with a trip to Anfield.
Meanwhile, having been knocked out of the FA Cup by Derby County, Crystal Palace do not play again until 1 February when they face Sheffield United at Selhurst Park (15:00 GMT).