Saints spark into life to underline task facing Villa
Southampton 2 Aston Villa 1
Aston Villa made positive progress yesterday towards the appointment of Remi Garde as their next manager but there was scant sign of any on-field improvement following the sacking on Sunday of Tim Sherwood.
With Kevin MacDonald overseeing the team in a caretaker capacity, Villa performed with plenty of spirit, but they had no real answer as Southampton shifted up a gear in the second half to condemn the visitors to a fifth straight defeat.
The first goal came on 51 minutes. Maya Yoshida drove forward from right-back into a central position and, with no Villa player recognising the danger, he pressed into space in front of their defence. A quick exchange of passes followed with Gaston Ramirez and he then drilled his left-footed finish beyond Brad Guzan.
There was no obvious lack of effort from Villa and they kept pressing forward.
Rudi Gestede, once again, was influential and he teed up Ashley Westwood, who forced a good save from Maarten Stekelenburg.
Even better soon followed from the former Holland goalkeeper, who reached to tip Gabriel Agbonlahor's dipping shot to safety.
MacDonald introduced both Jordan Ayew and Jack Grealish but Koeman was able to respond by bringing on the added quality of Dusan Tadic and Steven Davis.
The change proved decisive, with Tadic providing a wonderfully lofted chip into the penalty area from which Pelle emphatically volleyed Southampton into a 2-0 lead.
There was late futile hope for Villa when Virgil Van Dijk was cut down Jordan Ayew in stoppage time and Scott Sinclair scored the penalty spot, allowing the visiting fans to leave St Mary's singing, "We scored a goal, we scored a goal".