Graziano Pelle’s brace helped Southampton move up to seventh in the Premier League table with a 2-1 win at Stoke City.
Pelle gave Southampton the lead after 11 minutes, flicking in a Steven Davis corner to score his first goal in 13 top-flight outings.
The Italy international striker hit his second before half-time, linking up with Dusan Tadic and capitalising on lax defending to place a low shot beyond Jack Butland, who appeared to misjudge the strike.
Stoke hit back shortly after the interval when Marko Arnautovic converted a cross from Ibrahim Afellay, but they could not force an equaliser despite a raft of chances.
Victory breaks a run of three games without a win for Southampton – who saw substitute Sadio Mane harshly sent off for a collision with Erik Pieters in injury time – while Stoke’s four-match unbeaten run comes to an end and Mark Hughes’ side slip to ninth place.
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross was back after eight games out with a back problem, while Shane Long returned from a knee injury for Southampton, who were without suspended duo Victor Wanyama and Jose Fonte, with Ryan Bertrand filling in at centre-back.
The hosts showed positive intent within two minutes of kick-off, record signing Giannelli Imbula striding forward from his own half before shooting wide from 30 yards.
Butland saved Pelle’s header after 10 minutes but the visitors took the lead from the resulting corner. Davis whipped an excellent cross towards the near post and Pelle rose highest to glance in his first league goal since November.
Long then tested Butland with a powerful strike that the Stoke goalkeeper did well to beat away.
But Southampton scored a well-worked second goal on the half-hour mark when Pelle recovered an overhit cross and played a one-two with Tadic before bending a low shot into the bottom corner.
Ronald Koeman’s men should have had a third goal on the stroke of half-time when Long broke free and fed Tadic, who beat Shawcross but then dallied and was robbed by Geoff Cameron.
Stoke were much improved after the interval and got back in the game after 51 minutes. Imbula fed Afellay and Arnautovic turned the low cross into the roof of the net.
Fraser Forster then saved a powerful Arnautovic shot as Stoke sought a quickfire equaliser, before Afellay bent a 30-yard effort off target.
Stoke were pouring forward and Mame Biram Diouf had a fantastic chance after 64 minutes, but he took too long when picked out by Cameron and Virgil van Dijk made a superb block.
Southampton could have had a penalty when Tadic went down over the onrushing Butland in the box, but referee Lee Mason felt it was not a foul.
James Ward-Prowse rattled the crossbar with a late free-kick as Southampton survived a late aerial barrage and Mane’s late red card to take the three points.
Key Opta stats:
– Graziano Pelle’s opening goal was Southampton’s 12th headed goal of the season in the Premier League, more than any other team.
– Pelle has scored as many goals today as he had in his previous 17 Premier League appearances combined (2).
– Marko Arnautovic has scored seven goals and assisted one in his last 10 Premier League games at the Britannia Stadium.
– Arnautovic is the fourth Stoke player to score 10 goals in a Premier League season, following Ricardo Fuller (11, 2008/09), Peter Crouch (10, 2011/12) and Mame Biram Diouf (11, 2014/15).
– Southampton have received six red cards in the Premier League this season, two more than any other team.
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