Nathan Redmond’s first-half brace helped Southampton climb to the verge of Premier League survival in a 3-1 win over Wolves at St Mary’s Stadium.
This Saints victory – a third in four matches – combined with Cardiff City’s defeat elsewhere on Saturday moved Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men eight points clear of the drop zone with just five matches to play.
With painful fightbacks the order of the day for both Southampton and Wolves last week, the hosts might well have felt that sinking feeling again when Redmond’s early opener was cancelled out by Willy Boly.
But star man Redmond was soon on target again and substitute Shane Long’s strike 19 minutes from time secured three vital points.
Southampton came flying out of the blocks and led after just 94 seconds as Josh Sims cut a low cross back from the right for Redmond, who beat the lumbering Romain Saiss to the ball and prodded high into the net.
The visitors responded well to the early setback and equalised through Boly’s towering header following a period of extended pressure, only to quickly fall behind again.
Danny Ings played in Redmond to dink a finish over Rui Patricio and, moments later, the on-loan Liverpool forward similarly teed up Sims, who should have steered his shot on target but fired wide.
Wolves controlled proceedings in the second half but the usually dependable Raul Jimenez hacked their best opening out for a throw-in.
The visitors’ frustration was compounded when Southampton went straight down the other end and sealed victory, with Long played onside by Adama Traore as he stabbed past the goalkeeper.
A further goal would have followed, too, had Patricio not instinctively blocked a Maya Yoshida effort.
What does it mean? Saints nearly there
It would take a spectacular turn of events now for Southampton not to be a Premier League club again next season. They look a much better side with Hasenhuttl at the helm and should relish the opportunity to approach a full season with this set-up.
Meanwhile, the theme of Wolves dropping points against the division’s strugglers continues. The Molineux outfit must work out how to beat sides like Southampton if they are to continue their stunning ascent.
Ralph’s man Redmond
A number of Southampton players have improved under Hasenhuttl and perhaps chief among those is Redmond. Allowed to drift in from the left to provide a goal threat, he has scored eight goals since the manager arrived in December. The sight of Redmond receiving treatment between his two strikes was a concerning one for Saints fans.
118 – Southampton retook the lead just 118 seconds after Willy Boly had equalised for Wolves – with Nathan Redmond netting his first Premier League brace since March 2017. Direct. #SOUWOL
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 13, 2019
Sleeping start from Saiss
Having been blown away late on in the FA Cup semi-final last weekend, Wolves would have been keen to start well this week. But Saiss was caught napping by Redmond mere seconds into the match. He and his defensive colleagues were pulled out of position time and time again by Sims, Ings and Redmond.
Both sides have winnable fixtures next up, with Southampton visiting Newcastle United while Wolves host Brighton and Hove Albion.
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