Sunday 11 December 2016

Classy Saints show delights Koeman

Southampton 2 Bournemouth 0

Tom Peck

Published 02/11/2015 | 02:30

Southampton's Dusan Tadic (L) vies with Bournemouth's English defender Simon Francis during the match between Southampton and Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium
Southampton's Dusan Tadic (L) vies with Bournemouth's English defender Simon Francis during the match between Southampton and Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium
Victor Wanyama of Southampton holds off Harry Arter of Bournemouth during the match between Southampton and Bournemouth
Southampton's Steven Davis celebrates after scoring during the match between Southampton and Bournemouth
Sadio Mane of Southampton and Charlie Daniels of Bournemouth battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Bournemouth at St Mary's Stadium

Football's spheres and symmetries have never moved these two neighbours into close enough alignment to create anything that could be called a rivalry. Only rarely have Southampton and Bournemouth been in the same league and this match was hardly an exception to the rule.

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The home side's lead was all but inevitable from just seconds after kick-off. Their passing too quick, their runs too clever, their angles too crafty for Bournemouth's defence to comprehend.

Steven Davis put the Saints ahead with half an hour gone, a crashing unmarked volley from the edge of the six-yard area the culmination of an exercise in triangulation from Jordy Clasie, Graziano Pellè and finally a homing missile of a cross from Ryan Bertrand.

The second, five minutes later, was more sublime. Pellè's looping pass with the outside of the foot drew whoops from the crowd as they traced its flight out wide to Dusan Tadic as if it were a Centre Court lob. Tadic's cross met Pellè's rising forehead at the back post. Two-nil. Game over.

Pellè's haka celebration, in tandem with Southampton's Kiwi sports therapist Graeme Staddon, might have been a poor pastiche of the real thing, but the sheer force of the Saints' ideas and execution in the final third of the pitch had more than a faint air of the All Blacks about them.

"I think the first half was the best 45 minutes we have played in more than a year. With a high tempo, we had good ball possession. I am very pleased about that," said delighted Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.

"The first goal - great ball, great goal, great movement. That is the way we like to play football. But still we have to learn from mistakes.

"We know that you get a reaction from the opponent after half-time. It's normal. How you deal with that reaction, keeping winning battles, we can do it better [than we did] in the second half."

Whenever Bournemouth came forward, they found themselves on the end of unforgiving tackles, usually from Virgil van Dijk. At the other end, Southampton were given space to come forward in waves.

The visitors rallied a little in the second half, but at no point did they take a genuine foothold in the match - not even for the final 13 minutes after Victor Wanyama had been sent off for two silly yellow-card offences. © Independent News Service.

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