A first-half goal from Yohan Cabaye settled a match between two European hopefuls at Selhurst Park as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 1-0 to move to within three points of the Premier League’s top four.
Cabaye may have been the match-winner, but it was some wonderful goalkeeping and an eye-catching display from Yannick Bolasie that may prompt January interest in the winger which stole the show.
A second successive home triumph over one of his former clubs means that Alan Pardew’s side are now level with fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur, but the out-of-form Saints are 12th and losing ground.
Southampton were winless in their three previous league matches and have also been thrashed 6-1 by Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, which may explain Ronald Koeman’s decision to make changes.
Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic, James Ward-Prowse and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg were all dropped as Maya Yoshida, Oriol Romeu, Shane Long and Paulo Gazzaniga were handed starts.
Gazzaniga was responsible for keeping the Saints on level terms in the early stages, firstly when a Bolasie cross which was taken goalwards by the strong wind was tipped over his own crossbar.
Cabaye’s stinging shot and Connor Wickham’s header were both kept out by the Argentine, who was called upon again when he got a fingertip to a Wilfried Zaha strike to divert it around the post.
Gazanigga’s heroics stirred his teammates as the visitors began to pose an attacking threat themselves, but the Saints stopper was outdone by an outstanding save from his opposite number.
Sadio Mane’s back-heel released Cedric Soares to cross into the box. Steven Davis got in front of Scott Dann and headed at goal, only for Wayne Hennessey to acrobatically push the ball away.
Palace were soon ahead thanks to some brilliance down the other end. Bolasie dribbled to the byline and laid the ball on a plate for Cabaye to convert from a few yards out for his fifth of the season.
Bolasie was dazzling at times although his final product was not always there. He should have put the Eagles two up shortly after the restart only to miss the ball completely at the back post.
Romeu, who rescued Southampton a point against bottom-of-the-table Aston Villa last weekend, tried to do the same with a blast from outside the box which was dealt with easily by Hennessey.
Pelle and Tadic were summoned from the bench but Palace looked the more likely to add to the scoring, and perhaps should have when Zaha scooped over the crossbar after more superb work from Bolasie.
Even had he hit the target, it would have had to be something special to beat Gazzaniga, who produced this excellent save to deny summer arrival Wickham a first Palace goal low at his near post.
Gazzaniga will surely keep his place going forward, and again he prevented a Palace second and retained Southampton’s hopes of rescuing a late point with a superb save from a fierce Bolasie volley.
But Hennessey was not to be outshone and had the last word as he superbly pushed wide a stoppage-time shot from Long, who glanced the resultant corner wide of the far post as Southampton fell short.
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