Thursday 18 January 2018

Southampton storm past Palace

Southampton 2 Crystal Palace 0

Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin

Charlie Austin scored his fourth goal in three games to send Southampton on their way to the fourth round of the League Cup with a 2-0 home defeat of Crystal Palace.

The striker, recalled to Claude Puel's team having scored the winning goal against Swansea on Sunday, gave Saints a first-half lead from the penalty spot in a timely statement to his manager. He had been dropped despite his two finishes in last week's 3-0 Europa League defeat of Sparta Prague securing their first win of the season and his first goals since January.

The impressive Jake Hesketh added their second and his first senior goal in the second half to ensure victory.  Both managers made eight changes to the teams they had named for Premier League victories at the weekend.  A previously uninspiring affair became one in which Palace's makeshift defence - Martin Kelly replaced central defender Dann to leave only Joel Ward of the back five that started against Stoke in his natural position - was then consistently under threat.

In the 32nd minute, Cuco Martina's right-wing cross was clumsily touched into Shane Long's path by Kelly, and the defender responded with an equally poor challenge that brought the Ireland international down and conceded a penalty.

The in-form Austin - showing composure and confidence and this time not arguing with Dusan Tadic as against Sparta - stroked his fourth goal in a week into the bottom-left corner as Wayne Hennessey went right. Shortly before half-time, Southampton should have increased their lead. Hesketh's through-ball sent Austin one-on-one with Hennessey but the recalled goalkeeper excelled in smothering his low shot away.

Hesketh, making his first appearance since December 2014, scored Southampton's second goal in the 63rd minute. Fine build-up play put Long through on goal, but when the striker's shot was saved, Hesketh finished into the near-open goal.

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