Eberechi Eze made his debut for Crystal Palace as the Eagles made a winning start to the 2020-21 Premier League season as Wilfried Zaha’s lone goal proved enough to sink Southampton.
The Nigeria-eligible midfielder started on the bench but was introduced for Jeffrey Schluup in the 79th-minute for his debut and showed flashes of the skills that saw him named in the last season’s Championship team of the season.
Ivory Coast forward Zaha, who has repeatedly been linked with a move away from Selhurst Park, produced a clinical finish from Andros Townsend’s impressive cross to mark manager Roy Hodgson’s third anniversary with a win.
Zaha had the ball in the back of the net a second time towards the end but it was ruled out for offside.
Southampton bossed possession but a combination of poor finishing and an inspired showing by Palace keeper Vicente Guaita kept them at bay.
Nathan Redmond wasted the visitor’s best chance while Guaita produced an excellent save to keep out a volley by Che Adams and then produced a reflex save to deny Danny Ings a last-gasp equaliser.
Saints defender Kyle Walker-Peters was shown a red card in the second half but got a reprieve after it was downgraded to a yellow after referee Jonathan Moss reviewed his foul on Tyrick Mitchell on the pitch-side monitor.
Officials have been instructed to review subjective incidents – such as goals, red cards and penalties – on the pitch-side monitor rather than rely on the video assistant referee.