Crystal Palace vs Southampton match report: Saints continue renaissance as fans turn on Neil Warnock after terrible performance

Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 3

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The Independent Football

A challenging sequence of games against Chelsea on Sunday, then Arsenal and Manchester United, means that it is too soon to suggest that Southampton's bad run is firmly behind them.

But a second successive win and a return to the top four made this a confidence-boosting afternoon against a Crystal Palace side fighting for its Premier League life.

 Instead of getting drawn into a battle, Saints snuffed out any threat from a home side who have only one win in 12 games and face a London derby tomorrow away to Queen’s Park Rangers, their manager Neil Warnock’s former club.

Senegalese winger Sadio Mané gave Ronald Koeman’s men the lead after 17 minutes, and on-loan defenders Ryan Bertrand – assisted by Mané – and Toby Alderweireld added further goals in the second half. It was their sixth successive victory over Palace, and few of the others can have been much more straightforward.

Mané, benched for the previous match in order to accommodate a change of formation, responded in a way that delighted Koeman and showed that the manager has a number of effective tactical options, with Dusan Tadic still to return after injury.

“We are back on what looks like a good run again,” Koeman said. “We have the players that I can change and keep the quality. We know our programme for the next games is tough, we need all our players and it has to be a challenge. The three points today makes the lads comfortable and we look forward to playing against Chelsea.”

Yet again Palace failed to impress at Selhurst Park, which became a fortress as Palace clawed their way to safety under Tony Pulis last season. This time they have taken only eight points from a possible 27 at home, and Warnock was jeered when substituting the ineffective Yannick Bolasie in the second half.

“At 3-0 down you’d be surprised not to get stick,” Warnock said. “His wife’s having a baby and he was tired before the game. She is overdue and it could be any time. You have to think about QPR.

“But I thought the fans were very good today. We’re due a bit of luck and we need a bit of help [in the transfer window] but we’re working on that. I’m sure the chairman will agree.”

Toby Aldereiweld makes it three with a powerful header

Southampton were almost ahead in the opening minutes when Julian Speroni tipped Alderweireld’s speculative lob against the crossbar, and the Santa-hatted Saints fans were cheering after 17 minutes when Mané exchanged quick passes with James Ward-Prowse to beat the offside trap, round Speroni and shoot home from an angle.

Palace’s reply was spirited but limited without the subtlety of the injured Marouane Chamakh. Fraizer Campbell hit the crossbar, although a raised flag would have ruled out a goal – incorrectly, as replays showed – but generally their need for a central striker to put more pressure on defences was keenly felt once more.

Saints doubled the lead three minutes into the restart when Mané took Nathaniel Clyne’s throw-in, turned Joel Ward and his low cross was dispatched first-time by the right foot of Bertrand. And it was 3-0 five minutes later when Alderweireld beat the hapless Ward to Ward-Prowse’s corner from the right to head his first goal for Southampton since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid in summer.“You can’t concede goals like that,” Warnock said. “They were all very poor. We made a rod for our own back. And we lack that devil in the box.” Instead of a forward, central defender Scott Dann finally headed a late goal for Palace as Saints relaxed. They will be unable to do so against Chelsea on Sunday.

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Jedinak, McArthur, Ledley (Zaha, 66), Punchewon, Campbell (Gayle, 48), Bolasie (Kelly, 71).

Southampton (3-5-2): Forster, Yoshida, Alderweireld, Gardos, Clyne (McCarthy, 86), Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Davis (Wanyama, 55), Bertrand, Mane, Pelle (Long 71).

Man of the match Mane.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee M Dean (Wirral).

Attendance 24,565.