From St Mary’s Stadium – Southampton stretched their Premier League unbeaten run to five games with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Norwich City.
The Saints dominated the game and only some poor finishing prevented them by winning more comfortably. The contest was settled by an unorthodox Che Adams strike midway through the first half – his third goal in four games – and a late Oriol Romeu thriker with a few minutes left.
The tone for this one was set from the outset with the visitors sitting deep and attempting to frustrate the hosts. Early on, this was successful, and the Canaries even threatened on the counter occasionally.
However, the hosts did breach their resistance several times before the break. First, a miscommunication between Brandon Williams and Mathias Normann allowed Armando Broja a sight at goal but his effort was easily saved by former Saint, Angus Gunn.
Just after the half-hour mark, Mohamed Elyounoussi missed a sitter. The ball broke kindly to him from a James Ward-Prowse cross and despite being just seven yards out the winger could only guide a tame shot straight at the keeper.
Saints did open the scoring before the interval though, albeit in unconventional fashion. A double deflection guided Tino Livramento’s cutback into the path of Adams, who showed great invention to scoop the ball over Gunn as he tumbled to the ground.
Southampton came out strong in the second half with Norwich barely venturing outside their own half during the opening 20 minutes. Despite this dominance, clear-cut chances were at a premium with the home team looking most dangerous from set pieces.
The Canaries continued to offer little in the way of a response in the second period, though Grant Hanley did nod wide when unmarked following a rare corner.
Southampton always looked more likely to add to the scoreline before the end with Ward-Prowse fizzing a trademark free kick over the bar six minutes from time and Elyounoussi being denied by some impressive Gunn keeping.
Soon after Saints did put the icing on the cake. With two minutes left to play, the ball fell perfectly for Romeu on the edge and the box, and the midfielder unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner.
Here are your player ratings from the south coast…
Fraser Forster (GK) – 5/10 – Some of his distribution was pretty suspect. Very few saves to make.
Tino Livramento (RB) – 7/10 – Pushed on bravely down the right all match. His cross led to the goal, though it won’t go down as an assist due to the convoluted way it reached Adams.
Jan Bednarek (CB) – 7/10 – A pretty easy night. He kept tabs on Pukki’s runs effectively.
Mohammed Salisu (CB) – 6/10 – Was never afraid to engage the Norwich frontline and this ruthlessness helped Saints dominate possession. Booked.
Kyle Walker-Peters (LB) – 8/10 – His feet are so quick, dispossessing him in close quarters is extremely tough. Defended well too. A constant menace.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 7/10 – A bit of everything in the Saints midfield. Never shirked his defensive duties and the volume of top-class deliveries into the box deserved an assist.
Oriol Romeu (CM) – 7/10 – Did his job fairly well, though his passing was a bit loose at times. Who cares about that though when he scores goals like that.
Stuart Armstrong (AM) – 7/10 – His startling winning record in a red and white shirt continues. Popped up all over the place in Saints’ fluid front four. A shame one of his long shots did not fly in.
Mohamed Elyounoussi (AM) – 5/10 – Should have had two goals in the first half in all honesty. Got in the right areas but you have to be more clinical at this level.
Armando Broja (ST) – 6/10 – Hold-up play was decent most of the time, as were his runs in behind. Things just did not quite break for him. Taken off in the second half, much to his frustration.
Che Adams (ST) – 7/10 – Possibly the least convincing finish of all time, but hey, they all count. Should have scored more, but in the end his strike proved match-winning.
Jack Stephens (CB) – 6/10
Shane Long (ST) – N/A
Moussa Djenepo (AM) – N/A
Angus Gunn (GK) – 7/10 – Wrong-footed for the first goal. Stood firm while his goal was under siege by his former employers in the second half.
Max Aarons (RB) – 3/10 – Walker-Peters had his number for most of the contest. Also caught out aerially on more than one occasion.
Grant Hanley (CB) – 6/10 – Popped up with some crucial headers as Saints ramped up the frequency of their crosses.
Ben Gibson (CB) – 6/10 – Was fairly authoritative and did not make many errors in possession.
Brandon Williams (LB) – 5/10 – The dual threat of Livramento and whichever one of Saints’ forwards decided to pop up to help proved too much for the Man Utd loanee at times. Carried the ball out pretty well and did some good covering.
Billy Gilmour (CM) – 3/10 – Kept getting frustrated that his teammates would not pass him the ball. In their defence, when he did get it there were no fireworks.
Mathias Normann (CM) – 2/10 – Endured an error-strewn first half. One of his blunders nearly resulted in a Saints goal. Dragged off (too late to be honest) with 20 minutes left.
Kenny McLean (CM) – 3/10 – Probably Norwich’s best midfielder, which is not saying much – like, at all.
Josh Sargent (RF) – 2/10 – Barely touched it and he’s not suited to the amount of defensive responsibility afforded to him at Norwich. Then again, he’s not good enough to displace Pukki. A tough situation.
Teemu Pukki (ST) – 5/10 – The loneliest man in the Premier League. The extent of Pukki’s isolation in Norwich’s system is legendary but in his defence he made the most of his scant opportunities.
Milot Rashica (LF) – 3/10 – Worked tirelessly but Livramento made his night very hard. Little to report offensively.
Lukas Rupp (CM) – 5/10
Pierre Lees-Melou (CM) – 5/10
Kieran Dowell (CM) – N/A
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