Ralph Hasenhüttl hailed a “fantastic” team performance as Southampton hit the Premier League summit for the first time ever, courtesy of a 2-0 win over Newcastle United at St Mary’s.
Ché Adams scored early in the game, assisted by Theo Walcott on his second home debut for the club, before Stuart Armstrong wrapped up the points with the killer second eight minutes from time.
In between the goals, Saints had several chances to extend the lead in a dominant display that propels the club to the top of the English football pyramid for the first time since September 1988 – four years before the modern Premier League was born.
“I think it was important to show that we can win against this team – we hadn’t done it so far since I’m here, so this was the goal for today, and to show ourselves that we are one step further in our development now,” Hasenhüttl said.
“I think you could see we had good solutions with the ball and against the ball. We were very committed and well organised.
“We had to replace Ingsy and Ryan (Bertrand), but you couldn’t see there was a break in our game. For me, this was the most important message.
“We immediately showed up again and scored fantastically. We could’ve scored more, I think, but it was a good result.
“It’s always dangerous because when you concede one, it kills the whole work that you do, so I think the message was to stay concentrated and not give anything away.
“I think we only gave one header away, when we were two up, so it was a fantastic performance from everybody.
“Two goals from the counter-pressing was the plan – sometimes it’s not the first action that is the important one but the second one, and if you stay online and be sharp, it’s a good chance to score.”
Hasenhüttl expressed his delight for the Saints supporters, who can enjoy their night with Saints sitting pretty on top of the pile.
“I’m happy for the fans. It’s a good moment to watch the table,” he smiled.
“If it’s only for a night, it’s still ok – it’s fantastic. We have never been there, so it’s history for them. Last year we had negative history, this year we have some positive stuff, and hopefully there comes some more positive things.
“I must say that we have definitely learned a lot. The way we play at the moment is brave, it’s organised with a good balance of taking risks or not.
“Against the ball, I think we are one of the best organised teams in the league. Now we also start playing very well with the ball, so anything is possible.”