Match ends, Crystal Palace 3, Southampton 0.
Crystal Palace 3-0 Southampton
Two goals from Christian Benteke helped Crystal Palace gain a much-needed win over Southampton to ease the pressure on Eagles boss Alan Pardew.
The hosts went ahead when Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster, in front of watching England manager Gareth Southgate, sliced a clearance and Benteke scored from close range.
Palace doubled their lead when an unmarked James Tomkins prodded home from three yards out after a corner.
Benteke grabbed his second late on as he tapped in after Jason Puncheon's pull-back as Palace secured their first win in eight matches.
- Relieve Crystal Palace's win over Southampton as it happened
- Pardew thanks chairman Steve Parish for support
- Watch - 'Palace balance right'
Welcome relief for Pardew
Before today, Crystal Palace had lost their last six games, a run that had led to Pardew saying the club was in a "mini-crisis".
There was speculation in the national newspapers this morning that the Eagles boss, who has been in charge at Selhurst Park since January 2015, would lose his job if his side did not win.
If ever he needed some good fortune it was today, and Pardew got it as his side were gifted a 33rd-minute lead.
There seemed to be little danger when Saints captain Jose Fonte rolled a soft backpass to Forster, but with the ball bobbling up, Forster produced an air-kick to gift Benteke the chance.
Three minutes later Palace doubled their advantage as Tomkins converted from Joe Ledley's flick-on with the Saints defenders inexplicably not tracking his run.
Southampton had lots of possession in the second half, but Benteke wrapped up the points with his second and Palace's third, much to the delight of Pardew and Palace chairman Steve Parish, who gave a thumbs up to the Eagles boss.
Tired Southampton struggling
Southampton were playing their 22nd game of the season and how their squad copes with an intense run of fixtures will be critical to their hopes of success.
The club are in the semi-finals of the EFL Cup and will advance into the knockout stages of the Europa League if they beat Israel side Hapoel Be'er Sheva on Thursday.
Saints made seven changes from the side that beat Arsenal 2-0 in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, but they looked tired and switched off defensively with two of Palace's goals coming from poor marking that enabled Tomkins and Benteke to score unmarked from close range.
Palace had conceded 17 goals in their past five matches and had not previously kept a Premier League clean sheet this season.
However, Southampton did not test home goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and, apart from a misjudged header from Virgil van Dijk which looped up on to the top of the crossbar, they offered little in attack.
The hosts soaked up a lot of Southampton possession in the second half, with home defenders Tomkins, Scott Dann and Damien Delaney excelling, but Saints' lack of creativity will concern boss Claude Puel.
Today was the first of seven Southampton matches in December, with them playing a minimum of seven fixtures in January as well and how Puel manages to rotate his squad will be crucial.
Man of the match - Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace)
Birthday boy Benteke gets an ideal present
- Southampton conceded as many goals versus Crystal Palace today as they had in their previous six Premier League meetings with the Eagles combined.
- Christian Benteke is the fourth player to score a Premier League goal on his birthday this season after Koscielny, Ozil and Nolito.
- In fact, Benteke is only the seventh player to score two or more Premier League goals in a game on his birthday.
- Saints have won just once on the road in the Premier League under Claude Puel (won one, drew two, lost four).
- Jason Puncheon has provided more Premier League assists for Crystal Palace than any other Eagles player in the competition's history (15).
- The third goal was the 15th chance Puncheon has created for Benteke in the Premier League this season, but the first the Belgian has managed to convert.
- James Tomkins scored in consecutive Premier League games for the first time in his career.
What they said
Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew: "I'm pleased for the club and it was important that we won. The discipline was good.
"When the pressure racks up in the Premier League it's hard but we got the balance right and we had some good attacking play.
"When you've been manager at Newcastle and the whole town lives and breathes football, you have to be able to cope with pressure. The pressure sometimes there was intense. It wasn't as bad this week."
About the thumbs up he gave his chairman Steve Parish, Pardew added: "We have a lot of serious investors at the club who perhaps don't know a lot about football so the chairman has been defending me this week, so I just wanted to say thanks."
Southampton manager Claude Puel: "It is frustrating because it was a good opportunity for us to stay in the top half of the table. The first-half performance was not sufficient. We just played for the last five minutes.
"We tried to play in the second half with good movement and we created chances, but it was not enough to win the game. We did not keep good concentration. It was a bad day."
On Fraser Forster's error for the first goal, Puel added: "Perhaps it was bad luck but it happens. The pitch today was bad but it is not an excuse."
Crystal Palace do not have another game until next Saturday, when they play away at struggling Hull City.
The games come thick and fast for Southampton as they take on Hapoel Be'er Sheva at home in the Europa League on Thursday, before playing Middlesbrough at home in the Premier League the following Sunday.
- 5TomkinsBooked at 37minsSubstituted forKellyat 89'minutes
- 18McArthurBooked at 55minsSubstituted forFlaminiat 89'minutes
- 10TownsendSubstituted forSakoat 80'minutes
- 17BentekeBooked at 70mins
- 2Cédric Soares
- 6José Fonte
- 17van Dijk
- 23HøjbjergSubstituted forSimsat 59'minutes
- 10AustinBooked at 51minsSubstituted forMcQueenat 76'minutes
- 19BoufalSubstituted forLongat 76'minutes
- Neil Swarbrick
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 3, Southampton 0.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Virgil van Dijk.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Sam McQueen.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Martin Kelly replaces James Tomkins.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Mathieu Flamini replaces James McArthur.
Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace).
Goal! Crystal Palace 3, Southampton 0. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jason Puncheon following a corner.
Attempt blocked. James McArthur (Crystal Palace) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt missed. Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Jason Puncheon with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Crystal Palace. Conceded by Cédric Soares.
Josh Sims (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Joe Ledley (Crystal Palace).
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Damien Delaney.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Bakary Sako replaces Andros Townsend.
José Fonte (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. José Fonte (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton) hits the bar with a header from very close range. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse following a corner.
Attempt missed. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the right following a corner.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Wayne Hennessey.
Attempt saved. Shane Long (Southampton) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Cédric Soares with a cross.
Substitution, Southampton. Sam McQueen replaces Charlie Austin.
Substitution, Southampton. Shane Long replaces Sofiane Boufal.
Attempt missed. José Fonte (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Sofiane Boufal.
Attempt saved. Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Sofiane Boufal.
Attempt missed. Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Joe Ledley.
Foul by Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Virgil van Dijk (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Christian Benteke (Crystal Palace).
Foul by Sofiane Boufal (Southampton).
Scott Dann (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Oriol Romeu (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jason Puncheon (Crystal Palace).
Attempt missed. Josh Sims (Southampton) left footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Sofiane Boufal.
Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
James McArthur (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.