Following the 2-0 home victory over local club Bournemouth, Saints looked to make it back to back victories as they travelled to the Stadium Of Light to face Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland.
Saints were forced to field a different starting eleven to that of the Cherries game. Victor Wanyama was suspended following two yellow cards in the match and was replaced by James Ward-Prowse with Steven Davis dropping into the holding midfield position alongside Jordy Clasie.
Maya Yoshida also received the call to play at right back with regular starter, Cedric Soares, dropping to the bench.
Saints started the game the brighter of the two sides passing the ball with precision and tempo, really setting out their statement of intent from the start. Finding a lot of success down the left flank it was Dusan Tadic who looked most likely to create a goal for the away side.
It was a cross from this man that caused early danger for Sunderland. Pelle’s header brought out a wonderful save from Pantilimon. Bouncing out to the man who started the move, Tadic, his driven close range shot was again saved. Although, the save turned out to be irrelevant due to the linesman’s offside flag.
As Saints continued to dominate, any clearance seemed to be effortlessly mopped up by Fonte and Van Dijk and again the game was turned in Saints favour.
Sadio Mane was given a yellow card for a late challenge on Billy Jones. Ronald Koeman had a word with the player to ensure he didn’t receive the same end to his game as at Anfield.
Although Saints found themselves looking the most likely neither time took the initiative to take the lead in the opening forty five minutes.
Half Time 0-0
Presumably Sunderland received a rousing half time team talk as they began the second half on the front foot. For about ten minutes they seemed more in control of the game and although Stekelenburg wasn’t particularly tested in this time it certainly saw the early exchanges put Saints on the back foot.
As time began to tick on the green shirts of Southampton started to again take control of the attacking moves. Mane had a fizzing shot tipped around the post by the Sunderland keeper in the 51st minute.
Virgil Van Dijk was proving himself a nuisance to the black cats defence from corners. Having already proved his scoring prowess in previous games he was causing a threat and subsequently being marked as such.
In the 68th minute Ryan Bertrand found himself played into the penalty area by Dusan Tadic. A quick and nimble touch took the ball around the tracking M’Vila, who brought down the England left back. The referee had no hesitations in pointing to the spot.
GOAL – Stepping up to take the penalty was the cool and inform Tadic, who despatched the ball past Pantilimon into the bottom right corner as the Serbian wheeled away in celebration.
The penalty itself, may be one that Matt Le Tissier would have been proud of. Even with Pantilimon at full stretch, the goal never looked in doubt, as the ball was perfectly slotted within inches of the right hand post.
They always say you are most likely to concede straight after scoring and that old ditty almost rang true today. Borini found himself with enough space to pick his spot in the right side of the Saint’s penalty area. Firing towards the top right corner Maarten Stekelenburg was called into action and beat the shot out for a corner.
The Dutch goalkeeper was beaten by the free kick of Adam Johnson, following a foul by the ever solid Van Dijk. Luckily for the away side the shot was beaten by the cross bar and couldn’t gather enough dip to find the back of the net.
As the minutes ticked on Sunderland continued to try and mount pressure on the Saints defence. With Caulker replacing goalscorer Tadic in an attempt to keep the clean sheet intact, the Black Cats seemed to resort to the long ball, in a hit and hope manner to try and earn a point.
The defence remained strong and although Graziano Pelle picked up a late booking, All three points will be taken back to St. Mary’s.
The win sees Saints make it back to back wins in a run of six games unbeaten. An unbeaten away run is also forming with Saints taking home at least one point in all six of their away fixtures so far.
7 – Didn’t have an ample amount to do today however when he was called upon he didn’t put a foot wrong. Pulled off a great save just after the Saints goal to keep the score at 1-0.
6 – Replacing Cedric at right back today, Yoshida was strong in defence. Being a natural centre-half he surely offers more defensive stability at right back than attacking threat. He did move forward and link up with Mane and Tadic at different points of the match.
8 – The captain is forming an impressive partnership with new boy Van Dijk. Although not threatened particularly today both Jose and Virgil’s comfort at the back played a part in securing the clean sheet.
Virgil Van Dijk
9 – My man of the match today. Van Dijk is proving to be a very important summer signing for the Saints.
8 – Looked cool in defending and again caused a threat further up the field. Bertrand is now settling back into his left back position after an injury kept him out early in the season. Great run and skill resulted in him winning the penalty for Saints.
8 – Another new signing that is proving himself in the Premier League. Today he broke up play well and was quick and confident in turning defence into attack. Still not quite fit enough for the full 90 minutes, he was replaced by Romeu. As Clasie’s fitness improves so will his performances.
7 – Dropping into a more defensive role today, Davis didn’t look out of place alongside Clasie. I think Davis gives more to the team in more of an attacking role but he remains able to fill in as cover as he did today.
6 – Was tenacious in his work rate today. As a lot of Saints attacking success came down the wings today he was often passed by. Still solid in performance but didn’t stand out today.
9 – Only Van Dijk’s performance stopped Tadic taking the honours of Man Of The Match. He has looked a threat since returning to form this season. It is like having a new signing now that he has seemingly got over his injury niggles. Brilliantly dispatched penalty to give Saints the win.
8 – Was a threat as per usual. His pace and unpredictability can cause problems to any defence. A couple of shots caused problems. Picked up another silly yellow card so needs to watch late tackles.
8 – Another player who is finding his form in the early stages of this season. Although there was no goal for the Italian, he worked well as a target man and held the ball up. He seemed to have an energy both going forward and defending from the front.
6 – Played a part in keeping it tight during the last ten minutes. A top player to be able to bring of the bench in this situation.
5 – Had seven minutes to run around and try and be a nuisance. As Saints were defending he had little opportunity to show attacking flair.
5 – Had little time to have impact on the game. A sub made to kill a minute and keep the defence tight.