• MATCH REPORT: SAINTS 4-1 Crystal Palace - Barclays Premier League




    Saints put four past Palace to guarantee European football.


    Ronald Koeman's side scored four times against FA Cup finalists Crystal Palace, to move up to 5th in the table and guarantee Europa League football next season.

    West Ham United's defeat at Stoke City meant that victory was enough to ensure Saints would bank European football, while Manchester United's meeting with Bournemouth was postponed due to security fears.

    There was one solitary change to the team that beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane the previous weekend, with Oriol Romeu stepping in to replace Jordy Clasie, who missed out with a groin injury.

    The first real chance of the game fell for the visitors, when the ball dropped for Dwight Gayle, but the Eagles forward's effort was turned away by Fraser Forster.

    Saints then sparked into life, with Dušan Tadić threading the ball through for Sadio Mané to narrowly poke wide.

    Ryan Bertrand then swung in a cross that Shane Long headed narrowly wide of the far post, before Romeu's low drive was held by Julian Speroni.

    Saints eventually made the breakthrough just three minutes before half-time, when Mané hooked the ball into the net after Speroni flapped at a ball into the box.

    The lead was extended in the 61st minute, when Cuco Martina's cross found substitute Graziano Pellè at the far post, with the Italian heading past Speroni.

    Former Saints man Jason Puncheon then halved the deficit almost instantly when he thumped a fierce effort past Forster and into the top corner.

    Saints were then awarded a penalty when Mané was sandwiched inside the penalty area.

    Surprisingly, Ryan Bertrand - the only outfield regular not to score - stepped up to take the spot-kick. He duly sent a high effort into the top corner, via the hand of Speroni, to grab his first goal of the season.

    Mané then curled wide of the far post from 20 yards as Saints went in search of a fourth goal.

    The fourth goal came eventually, when in the dying minutes of the game Pellè chested down a cross from Martina to enable Steven Davis to drill the ball into the Palace net to score for the third time in two games.

    The full-time whistle, and West Ham's loss at Stoke, meant that Saints will be playing European football again next season.


    * - if Manchester United lose to Bournemouth, Saints will finish 5th - any other result puts Saints in 6th


    SAINTS: Forster; Martina, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Romeu (Pellè - 46'), S. Davis, Wanyama; Mané, Long (Austin - 83'), Tadić (Ward-Prowse - 71').

    Unused Subs: Stekelenburg, Cédric, Yoshida, Reed.








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