Patrick Vieira urged his Crystal Palace players to capitalise on their positive momentum after the Eagles sealed their third straight victory at Selhurst Park with a 1-0 win over Southampton.
Odsonne Edouard slotted past Saints keeper Gavin Bazunu to break the deadlock late in the first half and it proved enough to hand the hosts all three points.
Palace’s fourth win of the season was the first that did not require them to rally back after conceding an opener, a reversal of an emerging trend the boss embraced with a caveat.
“It’s always good,” said Vieira, “But, again, it’s really difficult to control the game from the start to the end, and you’re always going to go through difficult periods.
“It can be in the first five, 10 minutes, it can be the last 10 minutes, but it’s about how we respond as a team.
“Today of course having a clean sheet means that we did really well as a team to defend, and accepting that you’re going through a difficult period, it’s important to be behind the ball and to wait until we get our momentum back and I think today we did it well.”
That momentum swung in the Eagles’ favour for much of the match after a period of early pressure from the visiting Saints.
Che Adams was back in the visitors’ starting XI and shone brightest for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side, pinging one of his side’s best opportunities off Vicente Guaita’s right post before the offside flag was raised.
Palace’s own attempt at an opener was also frustrated by the flag, Edouard beating Bazunu before Michael Olise was ruled to be offside in the build-up.
But Edouard finally broke through on 38 minutes when Wilfried Zaha dispossessed Lyanco and passed the ball to Tyrick Mitchell, who squared to the Frenchman for the finish.
It was enough to seal the Eagles three consecutive wins at Selhurst Park for the first time since May 2018.
Up next is a trip to West Ham then Nottingham Forest before the World Cup break, meaning the Saints clash was Vieira’s side’s last at home until Boxing Day.
He was quick to praise his goalscorer, who netted his third of the season on Saturday.
“Yes, and not just in front of the goal,” said Vieira. “I think he’s more involved in the game for us and is coming between the lines, and he is touching the ball and really getting involved in the last third, and he’s capable of linking quite well with the players around him.
“So at the end you get rewarded by all this effort to score goals.”
Saints boss Hasenhuttl, meanwhile, blamed a lack of speed for why his side failed to share the points.
“We played too slow,” he said. “We played with too many mistakes, and the counter-pressing was very aggressive, and when you don’t play quick enough when you get under pressure, this is how we conceded the goal.
“This is how we lost a few moments, a few balls, and in the second half we played much quicker and this was the difference.
“We made one change but then it was like nothing was much better.”