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Premier League

  • 26 December 2014
  • • 20:30
  • • Selhurst Park, London
  • Referee: M. Dean
  • • Attendance: 24565

Crystal Palace 1-3 Southampton: Mane marks return with star performance

Crystal Palace 1-3 Southampton: Mane marks return with star performance

The Saints came out on top after a spectacular individual performance from Sadio Mané helped them to pick up all three points at Selhurst Park, helping them climb into the top 4

Southampton returned to the top four of the Premier League with a comfortable 3-1 win at struggling Crystal Palace.

Sadio Mane marked his return to the Southampton starting-XI with a superb performance at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day, as he opened the scoring with an excellent early goal before turning provider for Ryan Bertrand to double the visitors' lead early in the second-half.

Defender Toby Alderweireld, on loan from Atletico Madrid, then opened his Premier League account with a towering header shortly after to seal all three points for Ronald Koeman's men, despite a late Scott Dann consolation for the hosts.

Southampton showed some of the swagger and quality that they produced early in the season, which saw them rise as high as second in the table before a slump of a draw and four losses from five games.

However, they got back on track with a 3-0 win over Everton in their previous match and can now look forward to Sunday's visit of table-topping Chelsea with a degree of confidence.

Meanwhile, Palace have won just one of their last 12 Premier League fixtures and have fallen into the relegation zone courtesy of Hull City's win at Sunderland.

Out-of-form Palace looked set for another difficult afternoon right from the off as Koeman's team began on the front foot. 

A poorly cleared corner allowed Alderweireld to test Palace keeper Julian Speroni with a dipping 35-yard effort after just three minutes.

The Eagles responded quickly as Jason Puncheon forced a smart save from Fraser Forster with a low drive from the edge of the box.

But Southampton remained the better side, and they took a deserved lead after 17 minutes.

Mane latched on to James Ward-Prowse's first-time pass to get in behind the home defence before rounding Speroni and applying a neat finish.

Forster then made a comfortable save from Palace skipper Mile Jedinak's free-kick before Frazier Campbell rattled the bar having contentiously been given offside.

Ward-Prowse nearly added a second for the visitors three minutes before the break, but his header looped just over.

The Saints had to wait just two minutes into the second half to double their advantage through a superb Bertrand strike.

After some good work down the right by Mane, he produced a low, driven cross that eventually found the Bertrand on the edge of the box, and the full-back confidently lashed home.

Their lead was extended further just six minutes later, when a simple clipped corner was met by Alderweireld, who rose highest to power home a header.

Star man Mane came close to notching his second of the game shortly after, curling a long range effort narrowly wide.

To their credit, Palace kept fighting and got a goal back through Dann in the 86th minute, as the defender nodded in Jedinak's corner.

But it was too little, too late for Neil Warnock's men, who look set to be involved in a relegation dogfight.