Southampton extended their unbeaten run away from home in the Premier League this season with a 1-0 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Ronald Koeman’s side dominated proceedings for much of the match, but required a penalty to make it six top-flight games in succession, home and away, without defeat.
Costel Pantilimon was the busiest goalkeeper in the first half, coming out on top against Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane before the interval.
Sunderland showed more desire after the restart but left themselves vulnerable defensively, with DeAndre Yedlin and Sebastian Coates forced into goal-line clearances.
The breakthrough finally came for Southampton in the 69th minute, with Tadic converting from the penalty spot after Yann M’Vila brought down Ryan Bertrand.
Sam Allardyce’s side were unable to grab an equaliser and subsequently fell to a third defeat in four outings under their new coach.
The Sunderland manager opted to revert to a back four and made four changes following the 6-2 defeat at Everton, with Duncan Watmore among those introduced for a first Premier League start.
The 21-year-old started brightly, applying pressure on Maya Yoshida – in at right-back for the hosts in place of Cedric – with his direct running, but Southampton soon took control of the match.
Following wayward strikes from Jordy Clasie and Mane, Pantilimon rushed off his line to deny Tadic after a lovely back-heel from Graziano Pelle teed the Serbian up inside the box in the 16th minute.
The Romanian goalkeeper showed great reflexes six minutes later to parry Mane’s venomous strike away from goal, with James Ward-Prowse in an offside position as he attempted to follow up.
Sunderland struggled to get hold of possession; a terrible 25-yard strike from Ola Toivonen that ended up closer to the corner flag than the goal the best they could muster before the interval.
The Swede was replaced by Fabio Borini for the second half and Sunderland appeared energised.
However, a surging run from Mane culminated in a ferocious strike that Pantilimon had to bat away, before blocks from Younes Kaboul and Billy Jones denied the Senegalese and Pelle respectively in the 55th minute.
The resulting corner was flicked on at the near post by Jose Fonte, but Yedlin headed off the line before colliding with Mane.
More last-ditch defending was required on the hour-mark as Coates produced a goal-line clearance to deny Steven Davis following a swift counter-attack.
Southampton’s relentless pressure finally paid dividends when Bertrand raced into the box and was sent to ground by a poorly judged tackle from M’Vila.
Referee Mike Jones awarded Koeman’s side the penalty and Tadic produced a confident finish, lashing the ball out of the reach of Pantilimon with 21 minutes remaining.
Sunderland responded positively but Maarten Stekelenburg clawed a Borini strike away from the top corner before Adam Johnson saw his curling free-kick fly just over in the 73rd minute.
The visitors had a penalty claim of their own turned when Jack Rodwell’s header was blocked by the arm of Yoshida five minutes from time, but the referee did not judge it to be worthy of a spot-kick.