As good as it gets. That was how Ralph Hasenhüttl described Southampton's performance in the first hour of their victory at Aston Villa, as he reflected on a memorable 4-3 win.
Saints were sensational at Villa Park, as they stormed into a 4-0 advantage, thanks to stunning goals from Jannik Vestergaard, James Ward-Prowse – who netted a pair of special free-kicks – and Danny Ings.
ralph hasenhüttlyou cannot play better than what we have done in the first 60 minutes.
Although Villa responded impressively, cutting the deficit to just one, including a pair of strikes deep into added time, it was a well-deserved three points for Hasenhüttl's side in the end.
"It's a strong side we play against here, that's very clear," said the Saints boss. "They had a fantastic start to the season, they have massive quality in the team, but we were absolutely strong, especially the first 60 minutes.
"If you want to go four up here you must do something right, and with one disallowed goal too.
"You cannot play better than what we have done in the first 60 minutes, and in the end, when you concede the first goal, then you start thinking a little bit and it's normal. The legs are getting heavy and you are struggling, and then it's overtime with another six minutes, and you concede the second one and are thinking 'ooh, hopefully we win this game.'
"But, in the end, it was an important win. It's not about how high, or the goal difference is not interesting me, what interests me is that we have the three points and I think not a lot of teams will get that here.
"We know that we are getting better and we have good automatism in our team. The way we played in the first 60 minutes was by far our best away game I think this season.
"It's good to see that we can score, it's good to see that we can defend. After half-time, we didn't play in possession like we can do normally, and this was what was a little bit frustrating to see, because then you come under pressure automatically."