Southampton’s winless run was extended to four matches, as they were beaten 3-0 on a disappointing afternoon away to Brentford.
Having beaten the Bees 4-1 when the sides met earlier in the season at St Mary’s, the travelling fans would have been hopeful of seeing their side pick up a result that would have eased any lingering concerns around the team’s position in the table, but there was to be no repeat on this occasion, as Saints found the going much harder.
The bulk of the damage was done in the space of one wild first-half minute, when Brentford scored twice, as Yoane Wissa immediately followed up captain Pontus Jansson’s opener, before Kristoffer Ajer added another in the closing stages.
Saints did create plenty of opportunities throughout the afternoon themselves, but they could not convert any, meaning it is now one win in 11 games, ahead of the final two fixtures of the season.
Hasenhüttl made four changes to the team that was beaten by Crystal Palace last time out, as Ibrahima Diallo, Stuart Armstrong, Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja were all brought into the line-up.
That meant Oriol Romeu, Nathan Tella, Shane Long and Ché Adams dropped to the bench, where there was also a place for 16-year-old Tyler Dibling, following his recent hat-trick for the B Team at Newcastle, setting up the potential for him to become the youngest player to ever feature for the men’s first-team.
Saints, who were looking to end a run of three games without a win, could certainly have done with a good start, and in the first few minutes there was some optimism it might come.
Their best move in the opening exchanges came on four minutes, when a clever pass from Nathan Redmond sent Romain Perraud running down the left and into the area. He then cut back nicely past Ajer, but dragged his right-footed shot wide of the near post when there were probably better options for him in the centre.
That, however, was where the encouragement ended.
A first warning came on eight minutes, when Mathias Jensen bounced a shot over from close range, after Rico Henry’s low delivery from the left had flashed across goal and found him at the back post.
A second came two minutes later, when Ivan Toney flicked on a long ball into the path of Wissa, who cut inside Mohamed Salisu in the area, only to then hit a fairly tame shot that Fraser Forster saved at his near post.
That was to be the last of the reprieves for Saints, though, as Brentford scored twice in a whirlwind spell of little more than a minute.
The opener came on 13 minutes when a Christian Eriksen corner drifted over the head of Diallo at the back post, allowing Toney to chest it down, take a touch forward and then send a low ball into the six-yard box, where Jansson was on hand to steer home with his right foot.
And most of the home fans were still revelling in that goal by the time their side scored another.
It started via a long ball into Wissa, just inside the Saints half. He flicked it into the run of Eriksen, who was brought down by Salisu, but Wissa was alert to the loose ball, racing onto it and driving towards the area and, with referee Michael Salisbury having played an advantage, he curled a smart shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Brentford then spurned a big chance to make it 3-0 on 18 minutes. Diallo had been booked for fouling Henry deep on the inside-left, with Eriksen’s resulting free-kick to the back post finding Toney, who slammed a first-time volley across the face of goal and straight to Wissa a few yards out, but he somehow fired over.
Saints did at least issue a response, and looked dangerous when they could get the ball around the Brentford area.
They were close to pulling one back on 21 minutes, as Diallo’s angled ball to the back post was headed across goal by Kyle Walker-Peters, but it was flicked behind for a corner just before Broja could convert.
Moments later, James Ward-Prowse took aim from distance, but his curled effort was well saved and held by David Raya in goal.
Saints continued to look for a way back into the game, with Walker-Peters then heading over from a decent position after being picked out by a Stuart Armstrong cross, before Ward-Prowse hit a free-kick into the wall from inches outside the box, following Mads Bech Sørensen’s foul on Adam Armstrong.
For all their pressure, the goal wasn’t coming for Hasenhüttl’s side, and Forster was called on shortly after half-an-hour to keep it at 2-0, saving from Toney’s low shot across goal after he had been picked out by a stunning long pass from Eriksen.
Saints quickly went back on the front foot and put together a nice move down the left, as Redmond again released Perraud, who this time looked up and picked out Broja with a cutback, but the striker sliced his first-time shot wide.
With one minute remaining before half-time, Saints did for a moment think they had grabbed a lifeline, as Diallo got in the way of an Eriksen pass, sending the ball back towards the Brentford goal and into the path of Adam Armstrong, who turned and struck a brilliant low shot inside the far post, only to discover he was narrowly offside.
Half-time came and went without any changes for either side, and it was Brentford who had the first sight of goal after the break, Eriksen curling a free-kick over from 25 yards, after Jan Bednarek had fouled Toney.
Saints then had a claim for a penalty turned down soon after, as a deflected ball in behind Brentford’s defence saw Broja and Raya both going for it inside the area, with the striker flicking it past the keeper and going down as Raya air-kicked, but despite Broja’s insistence he had been clipped and fouled, referee Salisbury waved the appeal away.
With the game wearing on, Hasenhüttl made his first change of the day on 64 minutes, bringing on Mohamed Elyounoussi for Diallo.
He went close to halving the deficit a couple of minutes after being introduced, as he chested down a clearance 20 yards out and sent a volley towards the corner, but Raya dived well to his right to make the save.
Saints pressed again and, on 74 minutes, Ward-Prowse saw a free-kick from 25 yards deflect off the wall and loop just over, after Stuart Armstrong had been fouled by Christian Nørgaard.
The game should have then been put completely out of their reach three minutes later, as a long throw into the area ended up being headed goalwards and dropping to Toney six yards out, but he missed his kick on the turn as the ball dropped, and Saints were able to scramble clear.
Brentford’s third goal did arrive in the 80th minute, though, as Ajer turned past Salisu and Perraud in the box and slotted a shot through the legs of Forster, to complete a miserable afternoon for the visitors, who now face a home game against Liverpool and a trip to Leicester to finish the campaign.