Stuart Armstrong believes returning to Premier League action with three points against Norwich City was a critical starting point for the remainder of Southampton's 2019/20 campaign.
The Scottish midfielder assisted Danny Ings to put Saints ahead shortly after half time, and then doubled the lead himself, but was quick to point out that a competitive fixture without fans isn't without its difficulties.
Although the game ended 3-0, courtesy of a fine Nathan Redmond strike, Saints weathered a brief storm in the first half, and Armstrong was particularly pleased that his side were able to overcome that early hurdle.
“It was a difficult start, a bit slow at times, a few mistakes," he commented. "But I think we eased into the game. Gradually we built up into the first half and I felt towards the end of the first half we were building momentum and creating chances.
“Danny [Ings] hit one off the bar and there was a good feeling going into the second half. It was all about coming here and getting off to a good start, hopefully with three points and that’s what we have managed to do.
“Our perseverance was good. We didn’t start fantastic but it’s the first game back after a strange spell out which is always going to be the case. I think we just kept at it and the longer the game went on the better we got. So that’s pleasing and I hope that continues throughout the next few games.
“A goal means a lot for me personally and for the team so I was really pleased with it. It’s strange, you are used to noise and fans and it’s sad not to have them but it’s very good to have football back.
“The atmosphere is nothing as you have seen but it still felt like an away game coming to a difficult place against a good team and we’re very happy with our performance.”