On the opening day of the Premier League season at Selhurst Park, Wilfried Zaha’s 50th goal in league football secured injury-hit Crystal Palace a 1-0 victory over Southampton.
Zaha met the cross of Andros Townsend to volley the hosts in front (13) against a lazy Saints who struggled to reproduce the impressive form shown at the end of the last campaign.
The Southampton skipper was accused of kicking lumps out of the penalty spot before last week in Reykjavik Iceland missed their last-gasp pen against England.
The Palace players tried to knock lumps out of him yesterday as they kicked off their season to a winning start.
The midfielder should have been told that rubbing up rivals-and penalty spots-is not always a good idea.
The transformation of Ward-Prowse from Saint to sinner would confuse those who have watched his early career when he does not say boo to a goose.
But in the last 18 months, the kid with the chorboy looks has added some devilment to his playing.
And that coincided with gaining his place back in the Southampton team and the squad from England.
There were signs of what was to come when Saints won 2-0 here in January and JWP, playing in an unfamiliar right-back position, spent almost all of the game winding up Wilfried Zaha to such an extent that he was poked into the eye by the Eagles winger as they walked off the pitch at halftime.
Then at the final whistle, Ward-Prowse hurt the home fans by pointing in his shorts to a fake pocket-as if to suggest that’s where he’d kept Zaha.
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Kyle Walker-Peters saw his red card reversed by referee Jon Moss for a foul on Tyrick Mitchell, after consulting VAR Craig Pawson and his pitch-side monitor.
Palace, which hadn’t won in nine games since the end of last season, was almost forced to pay for Zaha’s miss in stoppage time when Vicente Guaita saved brilliantly to deny Danny Ings in a frenzied finish but kept on collecting all three points.
The foreign Ivory Coast got its vengeance here by firing the Palace ahead with a well-taken side-footed volley in the 13th minute-before a few of his team-mates got their own back on the Saints man as well.
First Jeffrey Schlupp got a yellow card for a wild kick that would have taken off the head of JWP if it had connected.
James McCarthy then spent the run-up to the interval catching his opponent’s face and kicking him until he was booked after the break for another poor tackle on him.
If the tactics of the Eagles were intended to throw Ward-Prowse off his game, they only succeeded as the tidy finish of Zaha-his career’s 50th League and play-off score-turned out to be the winner in what was a very awful encounter.
Saints pair Nathan Redmond and Che Adams both had second half shots that were saved by Vicente Guaita, the Palace keeper.
The visitors figured they had been reduced to 10 players in the 53rd minute when ref Jon Moss gave Kyle Walker-Peters a red card on Palace left-back Tyrick Mitchell for a high-footed challenge.
The official went to the side of the pitch to check the display as the decision went to VAR and the decision was reduced to a yellow card.
Now that’s the way the technology is used. Actually it seems that commonsense actually prevailed.
Zaha then had the VAR thrown out a second goal in the 81st minute for offside.
Then, in stoppage time, he fired an equal chance into the side netting – before Saints went straight up the other end and forced Guaita into a brilliant save from Danny Ings’ glancing header.
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Crystal Palace travels to Bournemouth in the second round of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday (kick-off 7.45pm) before visiting the Premier League in Manchester United next Saturday, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 5.30pm).