MIDFIELDER Oriol Romeu has praised the impact of team-mate Jannik Vestergaard in Saints' opening-day contest at Crystal Palace.

The Denmark international was introduced at half-time at Selhurst Park in place of Jan Bednarek and impressed in the heart of the Saints defence alongside Jack Stephens.

Vestergaard for Bednarek sub for 'tactical' reasons, says Ralph

The visitors were already trailing 1-0 to an early Wilfried Zaha goal and that is how the game stayed as Che Adams, Nathan Redmond and Danny Ings were all denied by goalkeeper Vicente Guaita in the second half.

But Romeu felt Vestergaard contributed to an improved second-half display from the side.

The Spaniard told the Daily Echo: "We were looking for more balls through the lines, trying to break their pressure and I think he did very well.

"As soon as he came on he made two or three good passes and straightaway they were already a lot deeper and they were struggling a lot more to defend.

"That’s another part of the game we need to work on. The more options that we have, the more dangerous we will be."

But it was the missed chances that proved fatal for Saints. Vestergaard played his part in creating one, winning a header to tee up Adams, who was denied by a fabulous reaction stop from Guaita.

Looking back at the contest, Romeu said: "I think the first half was a bit strange. We couldn’t play our game. We couldn’t create chances. They felt good, they scored a goal and played their game.

"We couldn’t put enough pressure on them, so we had to change things up in the second half.

"We put more balls behind, we put more pressure on them and we had more chances. Unfortunately we weren’t clinical and we couldn’t score.

"That was a big part because at the beginning of the second half with those chances from Redders and Che, if one of them goes in it probably would’ve been different.

"But we haven’t done it and that’s I think the key for the second half."

He added: "We didn’t score and probably needed to create more chances, but normally our strikers are in very good form.

"But it didn’t go in so we have to keep working and keep giving them more chances just to make sure the next one they can put the ball into the back of the net."

Despite not winning on the opening day since 2013, Saints went into their contest with Palace as bookmakers' favourites, given their impressive post-lockdown form.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men had lost just one of nine matches since June, whilst in contrast Roy Hodgson's Eagles boasted just one win in that time.

"It’s not the end of the world," insisted Romeu.

"We wanted to start with a win of course and I think we’ve worked very well in the last weeks.

"We were feeling great and also the end of the season was very positive, but we know how tough this league is and how difficult it is to go and get points away from home.

"We have to improve things and have to get better and get the form that we had at the end of the season back as soon as possible."