Saints earn another precious victory

By SFC Media time Wed 04 Dec Saints v Norwich
Photo by Matt Watson
Wed 04 Dec 7.30PM
Premier League
Norwich City
Ings [22'] Bertrand [43']
Pukki [65']
Djenepo (59')
yellow card
Byram (62')
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 27,019

Southampton took another significant step forward in their Premier League campaign, as they climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Norwich City, picking up not just a precious three points but also registering back-to-back victories at St Mary’s.

Danny Ings’s early header and Ryan Bertrand’s close-range effort on the stroke of half-time had Saints well in control at the break, only for a Teemu Pukki effort midway through the second half to set nerves jangling among the home fans.

Yet Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men held on, as they backed up Saturday’s 2-1 success over Watford with another triumph on home soil by the same score.

It means Saints have now taken seven points from a possible nine – and with three more crucial fixtures ahead of Christmas, against Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa, they will feel there is an opportunity to pull further clear of danger and extend the one-point gap over the bottom three that they enjoyed as the full-time whistle blew.

Hasenhüttl made just one change from the side that had beaten Watford, as Shane Long came in for Michael Obafemi, who dropped to the bench, where Sofiane Boufal was fit enough to take up a place, despite his ongoing toe issue.

Long’s energy was emblematic of Saints’ start to the game in general, as they showed plenty of positive intent, pressing their opponents regularly in the opening stages.

Daniel Farke’s team held firm, though, but Hasenhüttl’s men were proving equally adept at sniffing out any Norwich threat on the counter-attack.

Indeed, it wasn’t until the 15th minute that the first shot of the game arrived, as Norwich’s Kenny McLean dragged a tame, low effort wide from 25 yards, before Long responded shortly after at the other end, doing well to leap highest for Cédric’s cross but only being able to generate enough power to allow Tim Krul to gather comfortably.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: Danny Ings of Southampton celebrates after scoring to put his team 1-0 up during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Norwich City at St Mary's Stadium on December 04, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Danny Ings registers his ninth goal in ten games (Photo: Matt Watson)

There would be no comfortable gathering of the header Krul was faced with on 21 minutes, though.

After James Ward-Prowse was fouled on the left by Todd Cantwell, the midfielder hauled himself off the floor and whipped in a wonderful set-piece delivery, curling the ball with pace towards the near post, where the red-hot Ings glanced it past the Norwich keeper to notch his ninth goal in ten games, and make it a fourth match in a row on target.

It also marked the first time this season in which Saints had opened the scoring in a home fixture.

Buoyed by finally having that platform to operate from, the hosts went in search of a second, and they came close to it on 32 minutes, as Moussa Djenepo struck a fierce, left-footed effort from just outside the box that swerved wickedly and flew inches over the bar.

Saints’ game was really starting to flow now, with any inhibitions caused by their form at home this season cast aside, and they did deservedly double the lead three minutes before half-time.

It came via another Ward-Prowse set-piece, with his out-swinging corner being met by the head of Long, whose glancing effort fell perfectly into the path of Bertrand, who had made a clever run into space at the back post, and he slotted a right-foot effort calmly home from close range.

20191204 Southampton v Norwich City
Ryan Bertrand celebrates Southampton's second goal (Photo: Chris Moorhouse)

As if that wasn’t good enough, the hosts almost made it 3-0 in the final minute of the half, as a bouncing ball ran into the path of Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who hit a stunning shot from 25 yards out that Krul tipped over spectacularly.

It was all enough to bring a standing ovation from the home crowd as the whistle went for the break and the prospect of back-to-back home wins came well into sight.

Anyone adding another three points onto Saints’ total already was reminded within a few seconds of the restart not to get too far ahead of themselves, as Pukki found space just outside the area and drew an excellent, one-handed save from Alex McCarthy.

Despite that one moment, though, it was a largely settled start to the second period for the home side, who had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Kevin Friend on 56 minutes, after Long felt he had been pushed in the back by Ben Godfrey.

Back at the other end, McCarthy was again called into action, as a loose ball broke to Sam Byram in the area, but his low shot from an angle was well stopped by the Saints keeper.

Ings then went close to his second of the match, chesting and volleying in one slick motion in the 64th minute, only for his brilliant left-footed effort across goal to slide past the post with Krul beaten.

Having almost gone 3-0 up, Saints found themselves only one goal ahead just moments later.

20191204 Southampton v Norwich City
Teemu Pukki's second-half goal set up a nervous finish at St Mary's (Photo: Matt Watson)

Half-time Norwich sub Alex Tettey threaded a beautiful through ball from the halfway line in behind the home defence, with Pukki running clear down the inside-left and hammering a shot past McCarthy to make it 2-1.

Saints could have restored their two-goal cushion almost immediately, but Cédric’s well-struck effort from distance was beaten away by Krul.

As the game entered its final 20 minutes, Hasenhüttl made his first change, sending on Oriol Romeu in place of Djenepo, before Ings was soon withdrawn for Ché Adams.

The final change of the night then arrived five minutes from time, as Long received a rousing ovation from the crowd upon departing for Maya Yoshida.

Four minutes of added time were signalled, but it was not enough for Norwich to find another goal, as a huge roar from the home crowd greeted the final whistle and another big three points for Saints, who will now look to complete a perfect week when they head to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.


Head to Head Stats

Norwich City
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jan Bednarek
Ryan Bertrand goal
Cédric Soares
Jack Stephens
James Ward-Prowse
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Moussa Djenepo yellow card
replace Oriol Romeu (72′)
Nathan Redmond
Danny Ings goal
replace Che Adams (77′)
Shane Long
replace Maya Yoshida (85′)
Sofiane Boufal
Che Adams
Oriol Romeu
Michael Obafemi
Kevin Danso
Angus Gunn
Maya Yoshida

Norwich City

Tim Krul (GK)
Max Aarons
Christoph Zimmermann (C)
Ben Godfrey
Sam Byram yellow card
Todd Cantwell
replace Emiliano Buendía (83′)
Tom Trybull
replace Alexander Tettey (45′)
Kenny McLean
Onel Hernández
Ibrahim Amadou
replace Marco Stiepermann (45′)
Teemu Pukki goal
Jamal Lewis
Marco Stiepermann
Mario Vrancic
Ralf Fährmann
Dennis Srbeny
Alexander Tettey
Emiliano Buendía
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