REPORT Southampton 2-0 AFC Bournemouth
Two first half goals were enough for Southampton to see off Bournemouth; with the hosts also reduced to ten men in the closing stages at St Mary's.
Saints have never lost to the Cherries on home soil, and they were rarely in trouble of seeing that record ended, despite a stronger second 45 minute showing from the visitors.
Steven Davis and Graziano Pellè scored within five minutes of each other leading up to half-time as Saints were in control at the break.
A double substitution at the interval from the Cherries saw an improved performance from Eddie Howe’s men, but they couldn’t take advantage of Victor Wanyama’s 78th minute dismissal for two yellow cards.
It meant a fifth league match unbeaten for Saints who moved up to seventh in the Barclays Premier League table as a result.
Saints were unchanged from the team that started the 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, with Sadio Mané among those returning to the team after sitting out the Capital One Cup win over Aston Villa in midweek.
Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc missed out with a thigh injury so Adam Federici replaced the former Southampton man in goal for the visitors, who were defending the Northam stand for the first half against the backdrop of a packed out St Mary’s.
The lively atmosphere in the stands was matched by a high intensity start to the game which was largely one-way traffic, particularly with opportunities in front of goal.
The hosts had long threatened Federici’s penalty area with Pellè and Mané each seeing shots deflected over before Saints made a move that finally outwitted their opponents.
Tadić and Mané switched flanks, and that change brought with it a chance when a well-worked corner resulted in Jordy Clasie seeing a shot blocked by Cherries skipper Simon Francis as Saints edged closer to a goal.
And while Wanyama reminded us of the edge to the game by taking a booking for an excessive force foul on Smith, Saints went in front on 31 minutes.
A neat move started by Tadić and Pellè, led to the ball going out wide to Ryan Bertrand whose pinpoint cross into the area was met by the on rushing Steven Davis, and the midfielder provided a close range finish for 1-0.
Five minutes later, Saints doubled their lead with another move that owed to superb link-up from the hosts’ front three. Mané played a fine pass out to Tadić who took the ball to the byline where he crossed from the left and Pellè crashed in to meet it at the near post with a firm header for his sixth league goal of the campaign.
Right at the end of the half, Virgil van Dijk produced a superb sliding challenge on Glenn Murray to prevent the forward from getting a shot in at goal, while a deflection looped the ball up into the air for Matt Ritchie to head wide.
There were substitutions for both teams at the break with Josh King and Junior Stanislas both on for the visitors, while Saints skipper José Fonte made way for Maya Yoshida.
The roll of the dice from Eddie Howe gave the Cherries more impetus at the start of the second 45 forcing Saints back in their attempts to push on from where they left off at half-time.
A possession-based game followed, though chances continued to come with Tadić firing a thunderous shot wide on to the left of Federici’s goal just past the hour mark.
Bournemouth had continued to grow in the game and the visitors had their best chance of the match on 66 minutes from a free-kick after Van Dijk had fouled Arter around 30 yards from goal.
The resulting set-piece taken by Stanislas flew just a fraction wide of Stekelenburg’s goal.
Saints were dramatically reduced to ten men on 78 minutes when Wanyama was sent off for a second bookable offence after dragging down Lee Tomlin just outside of the area. That prompted Ronald Koeman to make his final change of the match with James Ward-Prowse replacing Tadić in order to defend the lead.
As Bournemouth applied late pressure, Ritchie struck a rising shot over the bar and Tomlin forced a low save from Stekelenburg, but the Cherries, who had scored in each of their last eight league games, were ultimately denied a way through.
Southampton team: Maarten Stekelenburg, Cédric, José Fonte (c) (Maya Yoshida 46), Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand, Victor Wanyma, Jordy Clasie (Oriol Romeu 70), Steven Davis, Dušan Tadić (James Ward-Prowse 80), Sadio Mané, Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Juanmi, Gastón Ramírez, Steven Caulker
Booked: Wanyama (22) & (78)
Sent off: Wanyama (78)
Goals: S. Davis (31), Pellè (36)
AFC Bournemouth team: Adam Federici, Simon Francis (c), Sylvain Distin, Adam Smith, Charlie Daniels, Dan Gosling, Harry Arter (Lee Tomlin 73), Andrew Surman, Marc Pugh (Junior Stanislas 46), Matt Ritchie, Glenn Murray (Joshua King 46). Unused substitutes: Ryan Allsop, Shaun MacDonald, Yann Kermorgant, Baily Cargill
Booked: Gosling (64)
Referee: Craig Pawson
Attendance: 31,229 (including 3,066 away)