Sadio Mane found himself to be at the right place at the right time to hand Southampton a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in Tuesday night’s English Premier League clash at St Mary’s Stadium. The Saints, who needed the win in order to push themselves to fifth place on the log, may have controlled much of the possession in this encounter however they huffed and puffed until a late chip by Mane over an advancing Julian Speroni revived Ronald Koeman’s dreams of a Champions League campaign next season. Coming straight from two league defeats at the hands of Liverpool and West Bromwich Albtion, the home team looked average and set to end the game without the maximum points – the most notable opportunity in the first half coming in the 11th minute through Filip Djuricic who shot over the cross bar when the ball fell nicely onto his path at the edge of the box.
Then, at the turn of the second half, almost like soldiers who’d been given a new and clearer mandate Palace came out to play. Fraser Forster was called into action minutes into the second half when he saved Jason Puncheon’s effect. Minutes later the goalkeeper was containing a Yannick Bolasie volley and watching the rebound that fell to Wilfred Zaha hit the post and going out for a goal kick. However it was not until the 83rd minute when Speroni failed to deal with a James Ward-Prowse shot that the Saints were able to capitalise.
Speroni made a meal of Ward-Prowse’s attempt at goal and Mane was in position to nick the ball over the keeper and secure three valuable points for Southampton.