For Roy Hodgson, the disappointment lies ahead. With three minutes of normal time remaining at St Mary’s, Wilfried Zaha far and away this game’s best player, was sent off for dissent. After clashing with James Ward-Prowse, the scintillating Crystal Palace forward complained volubly to the referee Andre Marriner. Shown the yellow card, Zaha applauded sarcastically. The referee had no choice but to point him down the tunnel.
“It’s disappointing the player who was the best entertainment and was consistently fouled wasn’t able to contain his frustration over that fouling,” was the Palace manager’s response. “It’s not a good evening for me knowing he’s suspended, we need him playing.” Hodgson’s response was understandable. In a frayed, tense draw, Zaha was the one point of excellence, the player towards whom the eye was constantly drawn. In the scramble to avoid relegation, there can be no doubt he is the principal weapon in Palace’s armoury.
And for all the positivity flowing around St Mary’s since Ralph Hasenhuttl took control, Southampton had little to counter a player on a level beyond their reach. Stationed alongside Andros Townsend and Jordan Ayew in a fluid front three, every time he had the ball Zaha offered threat. A threat which Southampton checked with increasing levels of physicality.