Crystal Palace's impressive start to the season was halted by Southampton in the absence of star player Zaha

Ings was expected to start from the bench after suffering a foot injury in training. Credit: PA

Crystal Palace's reliance on Wilfried Zaha was again laid bare as Southampton secured their first Premier League victory of the season in his absence at Selhurst Park.

It will soon be two years since Palace last won without their finest player, as goals from Danny Ings and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg demonstrated how vital it was that they again recently persuaded him to sign a new contract.

Their last victory without him came when they won 3-2 at Sunderland in September 2016, so when he failed a late fitness test having suffered a groin strain during training on Friday it represented a significant setback, even if did not justify their 2-0 defeat to a struggling team.

In his absence, summer signing Jordan Ayew was handed his first appearance, to start alongside Christian Benteke, in an XI already weakened in central defence where Martin Kelly had again replaced the injured James Tomkins.

While Southampton named the same team that last week lost 2-1 to Leicester, their losing XI was also again short of the confidence that it seems Palace also only have when they are lifted by Zaha.

Throughout a largely uneventful first half it became increasingly clear that either an unlikely moment of individual inspiration or defensive error was required before either team would take the lead.

Benteke had headed harmlessly wide from close range when Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was out of position, and Hojbjerg tested Wayne Hennessey with a powerful drive from a loose ball towards the edge of the area.

When Palace's Luka Milivojevic was rescued from sending a header into their own goal by the diving Hennessey - he later struck a fine volley that was saved by McCarthy - it appeared that that error had been avoided but still the hosts contributed to Southampton taking the lead.

Credit: PA

It was two minutes into the second half when, from what appeared a position of minimal threat, Cedric Soares sent an ambitious cross into the penalty area towards Ings.

Mamadou Sakho and Kelly should both have cleared but they were distracted by Shane Long and Ings and, instead of cutting the curling delivery out, allowed to it reach Ings in front of goal, from where he tidily finished under Hennessey.

The hosts came closest to an equalising goal when first James McArthur struck the crossbar from distance and then when Benteke's close-range shot was saved by McCarthy.

Credit: PA

In the 64th minute Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who in Palace's past home match against Liverpool was given his first senior red card, was fortunate to avoid another when what appeared a deliberate handball resulted in only a booking and a penalty.

The visitors' substitute Charlie Austin wasted the chance to then secure all three points with the poorly-struck penalty Hennessey saved in the centre of his goal. With their next chance Nathan Redmond forced him into a diving save and Mohaned Elyounoussi sent the rebound against the crossbar.

It was in stoppage time when, with Palace pouring forward in pursuit of a point, substitute Matt Targett sent Hojbjerg through on goal and the midfielder took advantage of both time and space to round Hennessey and finish to inflict Palace's third league defeat from four.