Saints Win South Coast Clash With Bournemouth
Southampton beat Bournemouth 2-0 at St Mary's on Sunday afternoon to continue their recent good form in the Premier League.
The Saints took the bragging rights in the south-coast clash thanks to first-half goals in quick succession from Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle.
And despite having midfielder Victor Wanyama sent off with 12 minutes left to play, the home side held on to move up to seventh in the table after just one defeat in their last nine league contests.
Southampton boss Ronald Koeman reverted to the same team that started last Sunday's impressive 1-1 draw at Liverpool after their midweek Capital One Cup win against Aston Villa, meaning influential midfielder Saido Mane was back from suspension.
The visitors, though, were without goalkeeper Artur Boruc with a thigh problem, although that loss was offset by midfielder Harry Arter's return from injury for his first-ever Premier League start.
And Southampton started like a team who had never lost at home to their opponents in any competition, with the Saints dominating possession right from the kick-off, without ever truly testing back-up Bournemouth 'keeper Adam Federici though in the opening quarter of the game.
The lively Mane had one goal-bound effort deflected just off target, after being set up by a brilliant knockdown by Pelle, while Southampton also had appeals for a penalty when Jordy Clasie's well-struck shot hit the hand of a Bournemouth player, only for referee Craig Pawson to deem it accidental.
However, the home side's grievances were short-lived as minutes later they were deservedly ahead after a lovely move down their left flank involving the impressive Clasie and Pelle, before the latter's delicate touch released the overlapping Ryan Bertrand, and the left-back's inch-perfect centre then picked out the unmarked Davis to score from close range.
And before the visitors could clear their heads, they soon found themselves two behind after another excellent Southampton move down their left wing, this time involving Dusan Tadic, with his inviting cross being powered home by Pelle's head from six yards out - the Italy international's ninth goal in all competitions this season.
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe needed a response from his players in what little time they had before the break, and he very nearly got it when the previously invisible Glenn Murray broke clear of the Saints back line. But just as the striker prepared to shoot, covering Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk got back to make a brilliant goal-saving block, before the rebound was headed just wide by Dan Gosling.
Howe responded at half-time by making a double substitution, taking off Murray - who made just one pass in the whole of the first half - and Marc Pugh, and bringing on Junior Stanislas and Josh King.
And the changes had the desired impact as the visitors dominated the second period in terms of possession, territory and chances, without ever being able to get that crucial first goal.
Southampton, meanwhile, were quite content to sit back, soak up the pressure and protect their 2-0 lead, a tactic that almost backfired when Wanyama picked up a second yellow card after a lunging tackle on Bournemouth substitute Lee Tomlin, an indiscretion that will see the Kenyan miss next weekend's game against Sunderland.
But with not enough time to take advantage of their numerical superiority - the closest Bournemouth came to scoring coming in injury time when Maarten Stekelenburg was forced to beat away Tomlin's shot at his near post - Southampton were able to hold on to make it five top-flight games now without defeat.