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REPORT: Crystal Palace 1-3 Southampton

Saints march back into the top four as a comprehensive victory at Selhurst Park means it is two wins in a row for Ronald Koeman's men.

Saints fans watch on as the side notch up a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace
Saints fans watch on as the side notch up a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace
Christopher Lee/Getty Images

An inspired performance from Sadio Mané was at the heart of a convincing win for Southampton at Selhurst Park on Boxing Day.

Backed by around 2,600 travelling fans in club-provided Santa hats, the Saints fans could enjoy a relatively stress-free afternoon as the side cruised to victory.

Saints enjoyed a strong start, with Toby Alderweireld's hooked attempt almost catching everyone out - only for Julian Speroni to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.

Sadio Mané teed up Graziano Pellè, but the big Italian forward's header was off-target.

Soon after, Mané broke the deadlock when he raced away from the Palace defenders before using his pace to get round Julian Speroni and finish with ease into an unguarded Crystal Palace net.

There was almost a quick repeat for the Senegalese forward, but he was denied by the offside flag.

Mile Jedinak looked to beat Forster with a free-kick that zipped off the wet turf before deflecting off Sadio Mané, but the England stopper was able to keep the ball out of the Saints net and gather with relative ease.

Fraizer Campbell rattled the crossbar, only to see the offside flag raised - a sigh of relief for the Saints back-line.

Mané raced forward again, beating two Palace players before cutting back for Graziano Pellè. Southampton's top scorer dummied the ball, inviting James Ward-Prowse to have a shot on goal. Unfortunately the youngster's attempt sailed well over Speroni's goal and into the stands.

Ward-Prowse had a second attempt soon after. After some indecisive defending presented him with an aerial ball, his header nestled on top of the net, rather than inside it, from what was admittedly a difficult opportunity.

Shortly after the restart following the half-time interval, Ryan Bertrand had doubled Saints' lead.

Sadio Mané evaded Palace shirts before drilling a ball across goal, enabling the on-loan Chelsea man to slam a volley into the top corner and celebrate his second goal of the season.

The good work of Sadio Mané continued, as the former Red Bull Salzburg man won a host of set-pieces. It was to be a set-piece that provided the third goal of the game, as it happened.

James Ward-Prowse whipped in a trademark in-swinging corner, with Toby Alderweireld arriving right on time to thump a head into the back of the net.

It was Alderweireld's first goal for the club, and he celebrated it with the expected level of passion and delirium.

Victor Wanyama was introduced in place of Steven Davis after the goal, with Morgan Schneiderlin given the role of captain.

Clyne tried his luck from range with a rasping drive from outside of the box, but Speroni denied the former Eagles defender a goal on his old patch.

Palace looked to battle their way back into the game with limited success, with Wilfried Zaha joining the fray as Joe Ledley made way.

Sadio Mané could've had a second, when he expertly controlled a cushioned pass from Morgan Schneiderlin, before turning past two Crystal Palace and curling an attempt just over Speroni's goal.

Ronald Koeman rested Graziano Pellè with 11 minutes remaining, gifting Shane Long with another opportunity to impress.

Eagles boss Neil Warnock withdrew Yannick Bolasie to widespread discontent from the home crowd, with defender Martin Kelly replacing the winger.

Palace grabbed their consolation goal from a set-piece. After giving away a foul in the right-hand channel, Saints were under-equipped to deal with a ball to the back post, as Scott Dann held his ground and guided a header into the bottom corner with 4 minutes left on the clock.

Ronald Koeman handed a senior debut to academy graduate Jason McCarthy, withdrawing Nathaniel Clyne for the final minute of regular time.

Despite an additional four minutes of injury time, neither side could carve out a chance, as the game ended 1-3.