Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Guly Double Keeps Saints Top

Guly Do Prado scored both goals as Southampton secured a comfortable win over Crystal Palace at St. Mary's. The Brazilian headed in from close range after the hosts were rewarded for their first half domination. Do Prado replicated the goal in the second but this time from Frazer Richardson’s cross. The win ensures that Southampton keep their unbeaten home record in the league since last December and secures their status as the Championship leaders at the half-way point.

It was the first of two home in the space of five days for the Saints as they looked to keep their place at the top of the Championship. Both sides have already met each other this season when Crystal Palace came out on top with a 2-0 win over the Saints in the fourth round of the Carling Cup at Selhurst Park in October. On paper, the the teams were a lot stronger this time around and the hosts started brightly creating chances from the off. The league leaders almost broke the deadlock before the ten minute mark when Steve De Ridder pulled the back for Morgan Schneiderlin to whip in the cross from the right hand side where Rickie Lambert got his head on it but was superbly denied by Palace 'keeper Julian Speroni. The Saints continued to dominate the match and were rewarded for their efforts on 34 minutes where Steve De Ridder's trickery gave him the space to deliver the cross for Guly Do Prado to head home from close range to break the stubborn Palace defence. The visitors almost grabbed an equaliser soon after however Glenn Murray couldn't get his head on the end of Stuart O'Keefe's cross. Before half-time, Jos Hooiveld attempted to finish the move he started from the back however he fell short of Steve De Ridder's cross.

AT THE DOUBLE: Guly heads his first above Palace captain Paddy McCarthy

In the second half, the league leaders continued where they left off from the first half as Lambert's through ball set up Do Prado however his strike was straight at Speroni. It was the turn of Adam Lallana to increase Southampton's lead however his shot went wide of Speroni's left post. Moments later, Palace had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Salisbury when the ball was headed onto Jos Hooiveld's arm from a corner and Glenn Murray also failed to lob the ball over Kelvin Davis in the penalty area. Southampton extended their lead on 76 minutes where Frazer Richardson delivered the perfect cross for Guly to head home once more from close range to grab his 9th league goal of the season. David Connolly made his comeback from injury after coming on for the last ten minutes of the game replacing Steve De Ridder whilst Dean Hammond replaced Schneiderlin. The Saints couldn't find the third goal which would have put the icing on the cake however a 2-0 win was what the league leaders deserved. 

I have asked a few Saints fans on Twitter on their thoughts of the match:

@Ian_Strong: We played well against a very defensive side. Morgan dominated the midfield and I hope Guly's goals shut up the moaners.

@Saint_Kayleigh: Overriding point from today was that Schneiderlin had a blinder! #topnotch 

@saintadam1981: Yep just thought Spiderman was immense, passed the ball all over the place, Defence solid, just a very comfortable game! :o)

@Adam_Walsh1990: Saints controlled the game from kick off. Hardly let Palace get the ball! Two well taken goals from Guly!

In my opinion, it was a comfortable performance for the Saints against a stubborn Crystal Palace team who drop to 10th in the table after this result. Guly Do Prado has been getting a lot of criticism recently after his error that lead to Portsmouth's equaliser last Sunday however his two goals more than made up for his mistake as he came back with a bang. His Southampton career didn't get off to the best of starts when he signed initally on loan from Italian side Cesena last summer however the Saints fans have seen the best and worst of Guly this season. I still feel that he needs to make more effort when challenging for the ball as sometimes he runs towards it and then backs off. Despite this, he has certainly proved me wrong along with the rest of the Saints fans who doubted him. He can play on the wing or up front with Lambert who the pair form a good partnership however Nigel Adkins has to think of a potential signing in the attacking apartment in January. I also feel that Steve De Ridder was the man of the match after his best performance in a Saints shirt to date. His passion and determination was fantastic using his pace and trickery against the Palace defence which his contribution for Guly's first goal was the biggest factor. After this performance, De Ridder is sure to give Nigel Adkins a headache when selecting his team for the second of the double header at St. Mary's against Bristol City on Friday evening.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Steve De Ridder

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