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Birthday boy Benteke helps Palace beat Southampton 3-0


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LONDON (AP) — Christian Benteke marked his 26th birthday by scoring twice as Crystal Palace beat Southampton 3-0 to end a run of six straight Premier League losses and ease the pressure on manager Alan Pardew.

James Tomkins scored at a corner for the other goal at Selhurst Park.

Palace started the game just outside the relegation zone on goal difference and ended it 13th place after beating a Southampton team pursuing a third win in a week.

Southampton was the architect of its own downfall, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster missing the ball when attempting a clearance and allowing Benteke to tap home in the 33rd for one of the easiest goals of his career.

"Perhaps it was bad luck but it happens," Southampton manager Claude Puel said. "The pitch today was bad but it is not an excuse."

Three minutes later, Jason Puncheon crossed toward Joe Ledley at a corner, the midfielder's flick-on then deflected off Southampton's James Ward-Prowse and Tomkins applied another simple finish.

Puel substituted Charlie Austin — Southampton's only regular scorer this season — before Palace completed the comfortable win in the 85th minute when Puncheon cut the ball back from the left for Benteke to score.

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