Southampton eased to a 2-0 derby win over AFC Bournemouth, extending their south-coast neighbours’ winless Premier League run to five matches.
Ronald Koeman’s team move up to seventh in the table thanks largely to a dominant first-half performance, where the Bournemouth defence was creaking heavily before two goals in the space of five minutes from Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle.
Pelle celebrated his 36th-minute header by engaging in a Haka-style celebration with Southampton’s sports therapist Graeme Staddon, whose New Zealand compatriots claimed Rugby World Cup glory against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.
Unfortunately for Southampton, they were unable to produce the type of on-field dominance synonymous with the All Blacks after the break, when Bournemouth made most of the running but lacked badly for cutting edge.
The hosts played the final 12 minutes with 10 men after Victor Wanyama collected a second booking but there would be no way though for Eddie Howe’s men, who sit a point and a place above the relegation zone.
A Southampton side unchanged from last weekend’s draw at Liverpool asked plenty of early questions of a Bournemouth backline that leaked 10 goals over their previous two Premier League matches and Sadio Mane saw his 12th-minute strike deflected behind by veteran centre-back Sylvain Distin.
Mane, who scored the equaliser and was later sent off at Anfield, then latched on to Pelle’s knockdown and drilled a shot into the turf that grazed the top of the netting.
The breakthrough arrived in the 31st minute from a sweeping Southampton attack – Pelle’s deft flick falling perfectly into Ryan Bertrand’s path for a first-time cross that Davis converted on the volley.
The Italy striker got himself on the scoresheet five minutes later, powering home a header after Dusan Tadic bamboozled right-back Adam Smith with some clever footwork to deliver the cross.
Howe introduced attacking duo Josh King and Junior Stanislas in place of Glenn Murray and Marc Pugh at half-time and he was rewarded with a brighter start by his side in the second period.
But despite penning Southampton into their own half, Bournemouth were unable to test home goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Harry Arter added a strong presence to the Bournemouth midfield on his Premier League debut, but his low cross, after being released by Matt Ritchie’s delightful backheel, flashed through a crowded penalty area to underline the visitors’ lack of clinical work in the attacking third.
Wanyama’s foolhardy decision to go to ground on Arter’s replacement Lee Tomlin gave Bournemouth fresh encouragement but Dan Gosling headed over from an 81st minute corner.
And Southampton were able to celebrate a clean sheet for the first time in five unbeaten Premier League outings after Stekelenburg stood firm to thwart Tomlin as the clock ticked down.
Key Opta stats:
– The Cherries have failed to score on six of their nine visits to Southampton in the league.
– 15 of Graziano Pelle’s 18 Premier League goals have come at St Mary’s (83%).
– Southampton have now scored six headed goals this season in the Premier League (the most); twice as many as they did in 2014-15 overall (3).
– Steven Davis has scored two goals in his last four Premier League apps, after scoring two in his previous 86 games in the competition combined.
– Bournemouth averaged 73.8% of the ball in the second half, compared with 31% in the first. The Cherries also attempted 14 of their 16 shots on goal in the second half.
– Victor Wanyama was shown his first-ever Premier League red card.