Southampton 1-2 Crystal Palace: Luka Milivojevic strike seals comeback win
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 02/01/18 10:55pm
Luka Milivojevic's 80th-minute strike sealed a vital three points for Crystal Palace as they came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory over Southampton at St Mary's.
It was all going so well for the Saints as Shane Long ended his goal drought with his first strike since last February but James McArthur drew Palace level when he fired in from close range from Christian Benteke's knockdown.
The Eagles crowned an improved second-half performance as Andros Townsend set up Milivojevic who found the bottom corner from the edge of the box to complete the turnaround.
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Yoshida (6), Stephens (5), Bertrand (6), Pied (6), Hojbjerg (6), Romeu (7) Ward-Prowse (6), Boufal (6), Tadic (6), Long (7).
Subs: Davis (5), Gabbiadini (5), Redmond (5)
Crystal Palace: Hennessey (6), Kelly (6), Fosu-Mensah (7), Tomkins (7), Schlupp (6), Milivojevic (7), Cabaye (6), McArthur (7), Townsend (7), Zaha (7), Benteke (7).
Subs: Van Aanholt (6), Sako (8)
Man of the match: Bakary Sako
Palace's resurgence under Roy Hodgson continues with the side now up to 14th while Southampton are now 17th, outside of the drop zone on goal difference.
Pressure grows on Mauricio Pellegrino, whose side had an extra day to prepare for the game and looked the sharper team in the first half. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg came close to capping a fine move after 15 minutes but his 25-yard shot was tipped over by Wayne Hennessey.
But Palace - who have now won 11 points from losing positions this season - hadn't heeded the warning as two minutes later, they fell behind through an unlikely source.
Southampton made two changes as Ryan Bertrand and Jeremy Pied replaced Sam McQueen and Wesley Hoedt. Crystal Palace made three alterations as Martin Kelly, Jeffrey Schlupp and James McArthur came in for Scott Dann, Patrick van Aanholt and Jairo Riedewald.
Long had waited 1,320 minutes since his last goal - scored in a routine 4-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light - and produced a confident finish as he swivelled and fired low past Hennessey having collected Jeremy Pied's pass 12 yards out.
The relief was written across his face, and the Republic of Ireland forward played with a newly-found swagger as he nearly met Dusan Tadic's through-ball to double his account on the stroke of half-time.
Aware his side had been second best, Hodgson made a tactical change at the break as Wilfried Zaha was moved closer to Benteke and Patrick van Aanholt was introduced but it was his second change which had a significant impact.
Bakary Sako had watched on from the bench for over an hour but within five minutes of coming on, Palace were level. Sako lifted the travelling fans and after winning his side a free-kick, Townsend's delivery at the second attempt was knocked down by Benteke for McArthur to score.
Southampton offered little after the interval. Palace, sensing their opponents were out of ideas, completed the turnaround as after Sako combined with Townsend down the right, Milivojevic was in the right place to sweep home a sublime winner.
- Only Everton (12) have won more points from losing positions in the Premier League this season than Crystal Palace (11).
- Crystal Palace earned their first top-flight away win against Southampton in 10 attempts, their last being a 3-2 win at the Dell in November 1990.
- Shane Long's goal was his first in 1,320 minutes of Premier League football, ending a run of 26 games without a goal since netting at Sunderland in February 2017.
- James McArthur's goal was his fifth in all competitions this season, equalling his best return in a single season in English football (also 2016-17).
- Luka Milivojevic scored his sixth Premier League goal for Crystal Palace, but his first that wasn't from the penalty spot.
- The Eagles are now unbeaten in five Premier League away games (W2 D3), their longest such run in the competition since February 2015.
Mauricio Pellegrino: "It's a difficult game for us to digest because in the first half we dominated the game. We gave them the possibility to react in the second half by playing five yards deeper. We let them come into the game.
"The confidence went after they scored the second goal. We have to react and learn from this situation as we're in a difficult position now."
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Roy Hodgson: "My players deserve enormous credit. It's four points over the Christmas and New Year programme. We showed signs of weariness in the first half.
"The pitch was heavy and didn't suit our style of play but we got over that in the second half. It's a very important three points. The players deserve enormous credit for their work."
Tony Cottee said on Soccer Special: "In the first half Southampton were the better team and deserved to be a goal up and I don't know whether the weather played a factor, but Southampton were really poor in the second half.
"Credit must go to Roy Hodgson who brought on Bakary Sako, who made a real difference. Palace played really well in the second half and Southampton are in massive trouble now."
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Man of the match: Bakary Sako
Palace had looked leggy in the first half on a boggy pitch on the south coast following a drainage problem, but Sako's introduction with just over 20 minutes remaining injected urgency into their play.
In truth, the Eagles had produced a much-improved display in the second period but were without a goal to show for their efforts before the former Wolves forward provided the power to rally his team-mates for an extra push.
Sako was involved in both Palace goals as he worked tirelessly down both channels to win the free-kick which led to McArthur's equaliser before chasing a hopeful pass from Townsend in the build-up to Milivojevic's winner.
Southampton will look to put the defeat behind them when they travel to face Fulham in the FA Cup third round on Saturday before a trip to Watford in the Premier League on January 13.
Crystal Palace head into their M23 derby at Brighton in the FA Cup on Monday night in high spirits before returning to face Burnley in the Premier League the following Saturday.