Southampton lifted themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone and pushed beleaguered Fulham further towards the drop with a 2-0 victory at St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side came into the clash on the back of a four-match winless run, so the sight of the Cottagers – yet to register an away league success this season – was perhaps a welcome one.
Oriol Romeu netted his first goal of the campaign midway through the opening half after Fulham failed to clear a corner, and James Ward-Prowse doubled the lead shortly before the interval by converting a rebound.
The result hauls the Saints out of the bottom three and two points clear of Cardiff City, while Claudio Ranieri’s men remain mired in trouble, 10 points shy of their 17th-placed opponents with only 10 matches remaining.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 27, 2019
Hasenhuttl made three changes from Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal and one of the players recalled, Charlie Austin, saw a goal disallowed in the 15th minute for a barge on Sergio Rico.
There was no problem for the Saints eight minutes later, however, as Rico’s punch reached Romeu on the edge of the box and the Spaniard sent a first-time effort through the bodies and in.
Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Aleksandar Mitrovic wasted half-chances as Fulham belatedly threatened but five minutes before the break they were two down as Rico parried Nathan Redmond’s effort and the onrushing Ward-Prowse tapped home.
Mitrovic blazed over from a presentable opportunity less than a minute into the second period and Fulham probably sensed it would not be their night when Ryan Babel’s deflected effort struck the bar and bounced to safety with the final quarter-hour approaching.
What does it mean? Ranieri’s away-day woes continue
Defeat means the Italian is winless in his last 23 away Premier League games, stretching back to his time with Leicester City. The former title winner needs a drastic turnaround to save Fulham now.
Romeu the unlikely goalscorer
Few would have backed the midfielder to be first on the scoresheet at St Mary’s – this effort was just the fourth of his Premier League career – but in their position, Southampton will not care where the goals come from.
Fulham firing blanks
The Cottagers’ defensive frailties have been well documented – theirs is comfortably the worst record in the league. Add in the fact they have only scored one goal in the last four matches and it paints a bleak picture at both ends of the field.
Southampton face a daunting trip to in-form Manchester United on Saturday, while Fulham play host to west London rivals Chelsea a day later.
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