A second-half strike from substitute Charlie Austin secured Southampton a deserved first Premier League win of the season as they beat Swansea City 1-0 at St Mary’s.
Claude Puel’s men had missed a string of chances prior to Austin rifling home his third goal in two games, the striker having struck a brace against Sparta Pargue in the Europa League on Thursday.
The former QPR man had also rattled the bar moments before breaking the deadlock, while Lukasz Fabianski had frustrated the hosts with a string of fine saves.
The victory, which lifts Southampton out of the bottom three, was their third in succession over the Welsh side and the clean sheet they kept was their first in 17 games.
Swansea, meanwhile, rarely threatened to earn what would have been their first league triumph since the opening day of the season.
And that search may be set to go on with games against Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool next on the agenda for Francesco Guidolin’s men.
Kyle Naughton fired in the opening shot of the game after six minutes, drawing a regulation save from Fraser Forster, but it was the hosts who went on to look the more likely as the half progressed.
A fine burst down the right from Nathan Redmond yielded an opening for Shane Long but the Republic of Ireland striker saw his shot blocked by Fabianski, and the Swansea goalkeeper was also equal to a well-struck free-kick from Dusan Tadic after 20 minutes.
Virgil van Dijk then climbed well to meet a Steven Davis corner, but he failed to get any power in his header and Fabianski saved easily.
However, it was Redmond who was guilty of wasting Southampton’s best chance moments before the break.
Another clever ball from the lively Tadic released the former Norwich man who found himself with only Fabianski to beat, but blazed his shot wildly over the bar.
The Saints continued to press early in the second half and came within inches of breaking the deadlock on 48 minutes.
Redmond played in Long, but although the Irishman’s angled shot beat the advancing Fabianski, Naughton was on hand to slide in and clear off the line.
And Southampton were denied again seconds later when Redmond was rather harshly adjudged to have been offside before providing a cut-back which Long stroked into the net.
Long was rather surprisingly replaced by Austin on 54 minutes despite having been a thorn in Swansea’s side throughout, although Austin did almost score with what would have been his first touch, just failing to convert a fine cross from Ryan Bertrand.
The 27-year-old was then denied by the crossbar on 62 minutes, but made amends shortly afterwards when he controlled another teasing cross from Redmond and rattled a fierce shot past Fabianski.
Puel’s side were guilty of sitting back after going ahead and Swansea may well have snatched an underserved point had Foster not pulled off a fine save to deny Gylfi Sigurdsson four minutes from time.
Key Opta Stats:
– Charlie Austin scored his first Premier League goal since he scored on his Southampton debut against Manchester United in January.
– Southampton kept their first Premier League clean sheet since February 2016 (also v Swansea City) after a run of 16 games without one.
– Swansea have failed to score in six of their last eight Premier League encounters with the Saints.
– The Swans are now winless in four Premier League games since their opening day victory over Burnley (drawn one, lost three).
– Claude Puel earned his first Premier League win, becoming the seventh Frenchman to achieve this feat (Alain Perrin, Arsene Wenger, Gerard Houllier, Jacques Santini, Jean Tigana and Remi Garde the others).
– Swansea have not scored a first half goal this season, firing five blanks so far.