Wilfried Zaha’s 50th goal in league football secured injury-hit Crystal Palace a 1-0 win over Southampton on the opening day of the Premier League season at Selhurst Park.
Zaha met Andros Townsend’s cross to volley the hosts in front (13) against a lacklustre Saints, who failed to replicate the impressive form shown towards the end of last campaign.
Kyle Walker-Peters saw his red card for a foul on Tyrick Mitchell overturned by referee Jon Moss having consulted VAR Craig Pawson and his pitch-side monitor.
Palace, who had not won in nine games since last season’s restart, were very nearly made to pay for Zaha’s miss in stoppage time when Vicente Guaita saved brilliantly to deny Danny Ings during a frantic finish but they held on to secure all three points.
Crystal Palace: Guaita (8), Mitchell (7), Ward (7), Dann (8), Kouyate (8), Schlupp (7), McArthur (7), McCarthy (7), Townsend (7), Zaha (7), Ayew (6).
Subs: Milivojevic (6), Eze (6).
Southampton: McCarthy (6), Walker-Peters (6), Bertrand (6), Stephens (6), Bednarek (5), Romeu, Smallbone (7), Ward-Prowse (7), Redmond (5), Adams (6), Ings (6).
Subs: Vestegaard (6), Long (n/a), Djenepo (6).
Man of the match: Vicente Guaita
Saturday marked three years to the day that Roy Hodgson was appointed Palace boss but at the start of his 45th year in management, he was faced with the familiar tale of a depleted squad.
The Eagles finished 14th last term and yet would have been higher had they not concluded the season with seven defeats from their last eight games. Injuries contributed towards that sequence of results and Gary Cahill, James Tomkins, Mamadou Sakho, Patrick Van Aanholt, Nathan Ferguson, Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham were still unavailable for the season opener.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side collected 60 per cent of their points on the road last term, and it was his side who had the game’s first chance as Jack Stephens rose to meet James Ward-Prowse’s corner but could only plant his header straight at Guaita.