Crystal Palace 3 Southampton 0: Benteke double and Saints gifts boost Pardew

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Christian Benteke scored twice as Crystal Palace eased some of the growing pressure on under-fire manager Alan Pardew with a 3-0 Premier League victory over Southampton at Selhurst Park.

Pardew's position has come under scrutiny after the Eagles lost six consecutive top-flight matches, including last week's incredible 5-4 defeat to Swansea City, and they were only outside of the relegation zone on goal difference prior to Saturday's contest.

But Palace were given a huge helping hand against their manager's former club via an uncharacteristic error from Fraser Forster, whose woeful missed kick allowed birthday boy Benteke to open the scoring with his first goal for Palace on home soil in the 33rd minute.

Southampton again did not cover themselves in glory for Palace's second just three minutes later as James Tomkins bundled home from a corner.

Claude Puel's side were much improved in the second half with teenager Josh Sims - who scored the winner on his debut against Everton last weekend - going close and Virgil van Dijk seeing a header hit the crossbar.

But Benteke added a third late on to ease any Palace nerves and send his side up to 13th in the table, while an out-of-sorts Saints drop into the bottom half.

There was little to excite either set of supporters in the opening exchanges, although Sofiane Boufal showed a great piece of skill on the edge of the area before seeing a shot blocked by Damien Delaney.

Palace, while more solid at the back, initially struggled going forwards, but Benteke headed wide on the stretch from Wilfried Zaha's right-wing cross.

But two goals in the space of three minutes swung the game in the hosts' favour.

The first was an absolute gift from Forster, who air-kicked Jose Fonte's simple pass allowing Benteke an easy tap-in, before more woeful defending from a Palace corner saw Tomkins scramble over the line from Joe Ledley's flick.

Saints offered little by way of a response, but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg demonstrated excellent technique with a left-footed volley that just cleared the post on the stroke of half-time.

The visitors missed a great chance to get back into the game after the break when the unmarked Boufal wastefully volleyed over the top from Nathan Redmond's brilliant dinked cross.

Saints continued to up the pressure and Sims cut onto his left foot in the area before curling his shot over the crossbar.

Palace's goal lived a charmed life when Shane Long's header was saved at the near post by Wayne Hennessey and from the resulting corner Van Dijk saw a looping header hit the crossbar, with Fonte then volleying wide from eight yards.

And the visitors were made to pay for profligacy when Jason Puncheon kept Ledley's weak shot alive and played across goal for Benteke to tap in from inside the six-yard box.

 

Key Opta Facts:

- Crystal Palace ended a run of seven Premier League games without a win (losing six in a row before this game).
- Christian Benteke is the fourth player to score a Premier League goal on his birthday this season (also Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Nolito).
- Southampton have won just once on the road in the Premier League under Claude Puel (W1 D2 L4).
- Jason Puncheon has provided more Premier League assists for Crystal Palace than any other player in the competition's history (15).
- James Tomkins scored in consecutive Premier League games for the first time in his career.