Crystal Palace – Southampton: Wilfried Zaha scored early off a terrific Andros Townsend assist as Crystal Palace picked up a season-opening 1-0 win over visiting Southampton at Selhurst Park on Saturday.
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Southampton completed 300 more passes than the hosts, who will be happy to have all three points with brutal matches ahead in this early season.
3 things we learned
1. Key Palace win ahead of tough start: With Manchester United, Chelsea, and Everton next, this was a potentially huge three points to ease September concerns and Roy Hodgson’s men rode an early goal from Zaha to the win. Palace was outshot 8-4 and had only 22 percent possession so not all is hopeful at Selhurst Park, but a win is a win and may be the last one for a bit.
2. Zaha, Townsend inspire hope: Few players underwhelmed more last season than Zaha and Townsend, and Hodgson still nearly inspired a top-half finish out of Palace. Townsend’s assist to Zaha for the opener was classy and the finish solid. If Zaha stays and both players rebound this season — both big asks given Zaha’s lack of celebration — the Eagles’ relegation worries will be less than expected.
3. A good sign for VAR: Kyle Walker-Peters made a poor challenge for an airborne ball and sent his studs into the leg of Tyrick Mitchell. Referee Jon Moss pulled out a red card but VAR asked him to look at the video and the official downgraded it to a yellow. The red was a bit harsh and credit to both Moss and VAR for swallowing their pride on a game-changing decision. It was so rare that we saw anything like this last season and a good sign.
Man of the Match
Vicente Guaita made five saves including wonderful reaction stops on Che Adams and Danny Ings, the latter deep in stoppage, to help the Eagles keep all three points in South London
Crystal Palace – Southampton recap
Jack Stephens turned a set piece on goal to force Vicente Guaita into a very early save, the goalkeeper then beating Danny Ings to a loose ball after the striker struggled with his first touch in the box.
Palace claimed the lead after a dozen minutes through Zaha, who took a delightfully-chipped cross from Townsend and side-footed it past Alex McCarthy.
The teams traded chances after the half-hour mark, Saints’ early dominance settling down after the Palace opener.
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Saints attacked to start the second half with sub Jannik Vestergaard setting up James Ward-Prowse for a promising cross that Guaita slapped away before saving a shot from Nathan Redmond. Walker-Peters then chopped a great cross through the 18 that was absent receiver.
The promise was nearly undermined by a Walker-Peters high challenge on Tyrick Mitchell. Jon Moss showed a red card but VAR sent him to the monitor when it was downgraded to a yellow.
Che Adams then ripped a shot off a set piece knocked down by Vestergaard that Guaita stymied with a fine save. Adams later wanted a penalty on what would’ve been a quite soft call in the 67th minute.
Zaha had a second waved off by the AR as his run from just inside the Saints half was deemed just offside and VAR stayed with the call. He lashed into the outside of the goal deep in stoppage.
Guaita made his second terrific save in the fifth minute of stoppage when Ings turned a great equalizing effort on frame.