Wilfried Zaha sees red after Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse denies Palace

After all the talk beforehand about this being a possible six-pointer, Southampton and Crystal Palace were forced to settle for one apiece on a night that ended amid acrimony and no little anger as Wilfried Zaha was sent off after being shown two yellow cards in quick succession.

Zaha, who had earlier scored his first goal in more than four months to put Palace ahead, gave Andre Marriner little option but to dismiss him when he sarcastically applauded the referee’s decision to book him, after he had squared up to James Ward-Prowse.

Sure enough a second yellow card followed and even then Zaha, who allowed his frustration to get the better of him, carried on clapping Marriner as well as the Southampton supporters. That reaction to the red card – Zaha took some time to leave the pitch and had to be encouraged to do so by teammates – means he now runs the risk of his mandatory one-match ban being extended.

The flashpoint happened in the 87th minute and was prompted by a Ward-Prowse tackle close to the touchline. Zaha, who had already been fouled on plenty of occasions, clearly felt that he should have been awarded a free-kick. Marriner decided otherwise and Zaha ended up squaring up to Ward-Prowse moments later. That confrontation earned Zaha his first booking and within the blink of an eye Marriner was brandishing a red card.

Although Roy Hodgson felt that Zaha was the victim of persistent fouling, the Palace manager accepted that the forward’s response to Marriner was only going to lead to one outcome.

James Ward-Prowse celebrates his equaliser

James Ward-Prowse celebrates his equaliser. Photograph: Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images

“It’s disappointing that the player who perhaps provided some of the best entertainment during the 90 minutes with his performance, and who was consistently fouled throughout the game, wasn’t able to contain his frustration with that consistent fouling and protests over a foul which is not given – and maybe should have been. But then once he applauds the referee’s decision to give him a yellow card, under the rules of the game the referee has got no option but to send him off.”

Hodgson, who said that he did not believe Zaha was deliberately targeted by Southampton, added: “Of course it’s not a good evening for me here knowing that he’s going to be suspended for the next game. We need him playing. He will be very contrite, I’m sure, especially about the reaction to the yellow card.

“But as someone who has been in football a long time, it’s sometimes disappointing that the people who are the ones we most want to see are the ones who are often being taken out of games, either by fouls, or on this occasion because unfortunately they haven’t shown the saint-like behaviour which is required in this situation not to react to fouls.”

It was a strange end to what had been a fairly uneventful evening up until then. Ralph Hasenhüttl has re-energised Southampton since taking over as manager but his team looked flat and devoid of ideas here. Although Hasenhüttl felt the absence of a game for 10 days contributed to their lack of “rhythm” in the first half, the truth is that it was not much better after the interval and hard to see where an equaliser was going to come from. Ward-Prowse eventually provided it when he dispatched Matt Targett’s cross with a first-time shot from close-range after a flowing move down the left flank.

Rather ironically Zaha’s goal, which was drilled home at the near post, owed much to Marriner’s excellent decision to play advantage after Andros Townsend was fouled by Oriol Romeu on the edge of the area. Although both teams had chances to win the game late on, it was Zaha’s red card, rather than spurned opportunities, that provided the only talking point.

source: theguardian.com