Belfast Telegraph

Lambert: Saints can't ease off

Rickie Lambert has hailed Southampton's fine start to the new season but has stressed that they must continue to improve if they are to finish anywhere near their current fourth-place spot.

The England international scored the hosts' second goal in a routine 2-0 win over Crystal Palace at St Mary's on Saturday, just two minutes after strike partner Dani Osvaldo grabbed his first Saints goal.

The win lifted Mauricio Pochettino's side into the Champions League qualification places, leapfrogging the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton in the process.

But 31-year-old Lambert knows Saints need to maintain their form if they are to mix it with the big boys at the business end of the campaign.

"A good start is important to any team in any season, but just because we've done well doesn't necessarily mean we can lay off a little bit," he said.

"We'll be trying to improve because we know the teams around us in the league are going to pick up points so it's going to get harder to stay where we are, but we're confident we can do it.

"It's very nice [to be fourth], so let's try to stay there now. It's early doors, so we've got to take our start into the rest of the season and push on so we can stay there."

The goals came in the opening four minutes of the second half as club-record signing Osvaldo finally opened his account for the club and Lambert then curled home a superb free-kick.

Lambert believes it will do the former Roma forward the world of good to break his duck.

"Dani did terrifically for his goal," he said.

"He's hit it, got it on target and it's gone in the back of the net. That's what happens when you take your chances, and that'll obviously give him the confidence he needs - and it gave the team confidence to go on and get another goal."

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