Ings’ double helps Southampton to welcome win over Crystal Palace

Ings’ double helps Southampton to welcome win over Crystal Palace

This game was always in danger of being forgotten but Danny Ings was determined to ensure his return did not go unnoticed. The striker scored twice to offer Gareth Southgate a timely reminder of his talents with two weeks to go until the England manager names his 26-man squad for Euro 2020. A couple of smart finishes helped Southampton prevail against Crystal Palace, who led inside two minutes courtesy of Christian Benteke.

Since the start of last season, only Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Jamie Vardy have scored more than the 34 goals Ings has registered in the Premier League and Ralph Hasenhüttl could not help but smile when asked about his talisman’s shimmering return from a hamstring injury. “With Danny we are a different side because he makes the chances that we need to score and also scores goals where you don’t think there is a chance,” said the Southampton manager. “The first goal was fantastic from him. In the box he is so clinical.”

Ings’s first was magical. He brought Nathan Redmond’s cross under his spell with his back to goal with a delightful first touch, keeping Cheikhou Kouyaté at arm’s length before swivelling and squeezing a right-foot shot into the far corner with his second. It was a wicked finish and before a brief stoppage on 31 minutes allowed Kouyaté to break his Ramadan fast, the Palace goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita, denied Redmond and Che Adams.

If the sight of Ings scoring is commonplace, so too is Luka Milivojevic walloping in from the penalty spot, but five minutes before half-time the Palace captain produced an anomaly. Milivojevic saw his spot-kick saved by Fraser Forster after Redmond tripped the otherwise quiet Wilfried Zaha.

“I was pretty convinced when he stepped up that he would do what Luka always does,” said Roy Hodgson, the Palace manager, of a player who has scored 22 of his 25 penalties since joining the club in 2017. “It was a pity for him on his 150th appearance but I think he and we should be very, very pleased. He has been quite fantastic in my four years.”

Aside from Southampton’s sloppy start, when they allowed Benteke to juggle the ball in the box before blasting home after 112 seconds, they played with a zip synonymous with Hasenhüttl’s side and they prospered from a clever corner routine three minutes into the second half. James Ward-Prowse drilled the ball to Stuart Armstrong, who whipped a first-time cross towards the back post, where Jack Stephens and Adams were waiting. Both flung themselves at the ball but Adams managed to thrash in from a ludicrously tight angle.

Palace wilted and on the sideline Hodgson stomped his feet when the Southampton substitute Mohammed Salisu wriggled free of two defenders without much fuss. Forster pawed a Benteke header to safety and Stephens recovered after allowing Salisu’s pass to trickle under his feet and into the striker’s path, but Ings sealed victory to earn Southampton a first win in six matches, toe-poking in after Adams slipped in his strike partner.