Southampton manager Ronald Koeman hailed his team’s first-half performance in Sunday’s 2-0 south-coast derby win over AFC Bournemouth as their finest of the season.
Goals from Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle gave the hosts a deserved advantage as they dominated the opening 45 minutes at St Mary’s Stadium.
Bournemouth were much improved after the interval and Southampton’s comparative struggles were underlined by Victor Wanyama’s 78th-minute red card for a second booking.
But Koeman’s men stood firm defensively as their opponents struggled for clear opportunities – a decisive improvement on their previous home match against Leicester City when a 2-0 lead became a 2-2 draw
“Fantastic – I think the first 45 minutes was our best football this season,” Koeman told Sky Sports. “Great ball possession, good movements, great goals.
“It was the best the team can play and we learned a little bit out of the Leicester game – 2-0 up, defending better
“Always an opponent will give a reaction after that 45 minutes and you have to deal with that.
“It was a little bit better than against Leicester but still we lost more balls. We did not have that control in the game – that we have to do better.
“Everybody knows every Premier League game is difficult, even at 2-0 up, because you always get the reaction of the opponent.
“We won every battle in the first 45 minutes and we didn’t win the battles in the second half but it was still a very good performance.
“We defended well because they had maybe one chance in the 90 minutes.”
Southampton saw out the second half without their captain Jose Fonte, who was substituted with a tight hamstring
“We have to wait until tomorrow [to assess the injury],” Koeman added. “He had some pain in his hamstring.
“It wasn’t really a big one but we didn’t take the risk to continue in the second half.”