Saints beat Fulham to climb out of bottom three

By SFC Media time Wed 27 Feb Saints v Fulham
Photo by James Bridle
Wed 27 Feb 7.45PM
Premier League
Southampton
2
Fulham
0
Romeu [23'] Ward-Prowse [40']
goal
yellow card
McDonald (62')
Referee: Anthony Taylor | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 27,597

First-half goals from Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse propelled Southampton out of the Premier League relegation zone to leave visitors Fulham with a mountain to climb in pursuit of survival.

The hosts were the better team throughout en route to chalking up a first clean sheet since the goalless draw at Chelsea at the beginning of January.

Romeu took full advantage of a weak punch from Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico to hammer home through a sea of bodies at a Saints corner on 23 minutes, before Ward-Prowse tapped home the rebound after Rico had parried Nathan Redmond’s shot four minutes before the break.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made three changes to the line-up that started Sunday’s defeat at Arsenal, as Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand and Charlie Austin came into the side at the expense of Jack Stephens, Matt Targett and Stuart Armstrong, who dropped to the bench.

Hasenhüttl wanted to see Saints on the front foot and his team made a positive start, forcing Fulham to defend a couple of early corners before Nathan Redmond cut inside and drove a rising shot over the bar from 20 yards.

Austin then had the ball in the net after 15 minutes, although there was an air of inevitability about the referee’s whistle that quickly followed.

As the ball looped up into the sky off Havard Nordtveit, Austin merely stood his ground as goalkeeper Sergio Rico tried to catch it, missed it, fell to the floor and watched the Saints striker nod home from a couple of yards out. Was it a foul? Dubious, but they’re usually given.

It was Rico’s uncertainty under the high ball from which Saints got their noses in front midway through a first half in which the visitors had carried no threat to this point.

Bertrand’s inswinging delivery invited the keeper to vacate his line, but his punch lacked conviction and fell only to Romeu, who struck the bouncing ball hard and low on his left foot, seeing it ricochet off the shins of a defender on its way into the net.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Oriol Romeu(R) of Southampton scores to put his team 1-0 up during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Fulham FC at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Romeu fires home through a crowded penalty area to score his first goal since November 2017

Saints were gaining confidence and Fulham off the pace. Austin’s low ball to Redmond allowed the winger to tee up Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who hit it well but just dragged his low shot wide from the edge of the box.

Fulham did serve a reminder that Saints’ lead was a precarious one with their first chance nine minutes before the interval.

Chief goal threat Aleksandar Mitrović turned provider to pick out André-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who, denied by Yan Valery the first time, was stretching to shoot on his second attempt and the power generated was not sufficient to beat Angus Gunn.

Fulham’s next chance followed almost immediately. Mitrović raced in behind the defence again, this time controlling a high ball and shooting himself, but couldn’t keep it down as he lashed the ball over on his left foot from 12 yards.

It was the visitors’ best spell of the game, but any encouragement they may have gained was sucked out when Ward-Prowse pounced to double the lead.

Again Austin and Redmond combined, but this time the latter went for goal with a placed shot that forced Rico into a diving save down to his left, succeeding only in pushing the ball as far as the onrushing Ward-Prowse, who converted his fourth goal of the season – all coming since the turn of the year.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: James Ward-Prowse of Southampton scores his teams second goal during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Fulham FC at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Rico parries Redmond's shot, but Ward-Prowse is in the right place to double Saints' lead

Saints resumed the game with similar intensity after the break. Redmond was alert to Ward-Prowse’s quickly-taken free-kick, peeling away to shoot first time on the turn, but it ran between the far post and incoming attackers.

Redmond was off target again at the end of a mazy run soon after, before the tempo dropped and Fulham enjoyed more possession without really threatening to halve the deficit.

Højbjerg remained typically infectious, stealing in to dispossess Tom Cairney and powering towards the penalty area only to be tripped by Kevin McDonald, who entered the referee’s notebook.

Ward-Prowse, Redmond and Bertrand all stood over the free-kick, but the angle favoured the left foot so Bertrand pulled rank, but could not get the dip to bring his shot back down on target after clearing the wall.

Hasenhüttl made his first change on 64 minutes, as Shane Long replaced Charlie Austin, before opposite number Claudio Ranieri opted to withdraw captain Cairney to jeers from the travelling supporters.

Ironic chants of “we nearly scored” summed up Fulham’s absence of attacking threat, but Saints did have reason to be alarmed when Ryan Babel had time to turn inside the box and fire against the crossbar.

At the other end, Long ran in behind the visitors and flashed a shot narrowly wide from a near-impossible angle, while Gunn protected his second clean sheet on only his third top-flight appearance with a stooping save to keep out ex-Saint Calum Chambers.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Fulham
  • Possession (%)
    41
    comparison angle
    59
  • Shots
    14
    comparison angle
    14
  • Shots on target
    4
    comparison angle
    4
  • Corners
    7
    comparison angle
    4
  • Passes Complete
    295
    comparison angle
    450

Southampton

28
Angus Gunn (GK)
4
Jannik Vestergaard
35
Jan Bednarek
3
Maya Yoshida
21
Ryan Bertrand
14
Oriol Romeu goal
43
Yan Valery
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
16
James Ward-Prowse goal
22
Nathan Redmond
10
Charlie Austin
replace Shane Long (64′)
33
Matt Targett
15
Sam Gallagher
11
Mohamed Elyounoussi
7
Shane Long
1
Alex McCarthy
5
Jack Stephens
17
Stuart Armstrong

Fulham

25
Sergio Rico (GK)
16
Håvard Nordtveit
13
Tim Ream
4
Denis Odoi
23
Joe Bryan
6
Kevin McDonald yellow card
replace Ryan Sessegnon (69′)
5
Calum Chambers
29
André-Frank Zambo Anguissa
10
Tom Cairney (C)
replace Luciano Vietto (69′)
12
Ryan Babel
9
Aleksandar Mitrovic
31
Fabri
30
Lazar Markovic
44
Ibrahima Cissé
19
Luciano Vietto
3
Ryan Sessegnon
22
Cyrus Christie
11
Floyd Ayité
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