An early goal from Adam Armstrong was enough to seal a valuable three points for Southampton against an underwhelming Aston Villa.
Dean Smith’s beleaguered side came into the game off the back of four consecutive defeats and they were down a goal within three minutes courtesy of an emphatic volley from Southampton’s latest number nine, Adam Armstrong.
The summer signing from Blackburn Rovers has endured a lengthy goal drought since his goal against Everton on the opening day of the season but following an encouraging performance at Vicarage Road last weekend, he looked lively and alert against the Villains. After a high swirling ball descended onto a Villa defender, the ball sat up nicely for Armstrong and he made no mistake with a stunning strike from outside the box. The ferocity of the shot left Martinez no chance in the Villa goal.
Saints dominated the first half and were good value for their lead going into the interval. Villa could also count themselves extremely lucky that El Ghazi did not see a red after notching up a number of bookable misdemeanours. The referee Andy Madley was evidently in a forgiving mood, as a blatant and cynical tug from El Ghazi on the lively Livramento was deemed not worthy of a second yellow. The crowd were incensed, as was manager Ralph Hasenhuttl on the touch line.
The Dutch winger nearly made Southampton pay for the referee’s apparent generosity, with a couple of half chances but the centre back pairing of Bednarek and Salisu did just enough to keep things tight at the back. The visitors did come out strongly in the second half but after successfully withstanding an onslaught for the first ten minutes after the break, Hasenhuttl wisely decided to bring on Lyanco to shore up his defence. This tactic, along with the introduction of Diallo, worked sufficiently well to nullify the threat later on.
Despite seven minutes stoppage time being awarded to the dismay of incredulous home supporters, Saints managed to see the game out to secure consecutive 1-0 league victories. Villa by contrast look in trouble, with pressure mounting on manager Dean Smith. The Villa team coach left the stadium empty handed, with jubilant cries of “are you watching Danny Ings” ringing out raucously in the night.
Here are the three key players from yesterday’s game: