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Comment: Osvaldo and Lambert shine
Saints’ star strikers had both endured a slow start to the season coming into the game against Crystal Palace, with Lambert’s penalty on the opening day of the campaign the only goal between them.
But they both found the net at St Mary’s this afternoon with finishes of enormous quality.
The celebrations after each goal told you all you needed to know about what they meant to them, as well as their teammates, with every outfield player mobbing them after their respective strikes.
A lot of focus has been placed on Osvaldo and Lambert since the Italian international’s arrival, with the main question being can they coexist?
Mauricio Pochettino has always said they can, and, while they are still finding their way together, today provided further evidence to suggest he is correct.
Both players certainly needed a breakthrough.
“I am a little anxious for the goal that does not come,” Osvaldo had written on Twitter after last weekend’s wonderful win at Anfield.
In the end, he did not have to wait too long for it to arrive.
His powerful left-foot strike from the edge of the area early in the second half was just reward for an impressive display this afternoon.
The Italian is a player of incredible vision and skill, with some of his touches quite breathtaking, and his goal today surely promises to be the first of many in a Saints shirt.
He will do well, though, to reach Lambert's total.
The Saints forward has cut a slightly frustrated figure in the past few weeks, following a series of fruitless days in attack.
Pochettino spoke this week of how the 31-year-old is having to come to terms with the pressures and expectations of being an England international this season, and the extra demands that is placing on him.
“There is a new situation Rickie Lambert is going through – he’s 31-years-old and only now in the international side and there is a lot of expectation placed on him,” the Saints boss said.
“He needs to be able to withstand and adapt to that mental pressure and that physical pressure that he is facing at the moment.
“We are very happy and pleased with how he’s playing, very happy with his contributions to the team and I have no doubts the goals will start coming from him as well.”
Pochettino’s confidence was well placed. Lambert’s free-kick two minutes after Osvaldo had opened the scoring was a thing of beauty, bending up and over the wall, before cannoning in off the near post.
Lambert has been so desperate to impress this season, particularly as he bids to hold on to the England place he has worked so hard to obtain.
There was never any doubt he would find his scoring touch, but his reaction spoke of a sense of relief, and his subsequent high-five with Pochettino was perhaps a show of thanks for the manager’s unstinting faith in him.
Pochettino also revealed this week how he has been asking Lambert to add a new dimension to his game this term.
“The only thing that we are trying to make him see is that he needs to be more mobile, he can move a lot more around the pitch and he doesn’t have to be static in one place,” he said. “We are trying to make him understand how to interpret the open spaces where he can roam.
“He is already a dynamic player but we want him to increase that even more.”
Often dropping deeper to play off Osvaldo, running the channels, and pulling wide, it appeared Lambert was doing his best to follow his new orders.
The highlight, though, was the sumptuous free-kick.
With Osvaldo and Lambert now firing, Saints are looking an even more threatening force in this division.
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