Saturday 10 December 2016

Long day for Villa as Saints crush FA Cup finalists

Southampton 6 Aston Villa 1

Simon Peach

Published 16/05/2015 | 15:00

Shay Given reacts after Graziano Pelle scores Southampton's sixth goal
Shay Given reacts after Graziano Pelle scores Southampton's sixth goal
Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the opening goal against Aston Villa at St Mary's Stadium
Southampton's Irish striker Shane Long celebrates after scoring his second goal against Aston Villa

Sadio Mane netted the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history as Southampton boosted their hopes of European qualification with a remarkable victory against Aston Villa.

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Saints have made a mockery of those predicting a season of strife at St Mary's, with Ronald Koeman not only steering the club to calmer waters but new heights after replacing high-profile departures with some wily acquisitions.

Mane, a £10 million signing from Red Bull Salzburg, was among them and underlined his qualities with a record-breaking treble against Aston Villa, setting Southampton on course for a memorable 6-1 win.

The Senegal international's treble was wrapped up in two minutes and 56 seconds - the quickest in Premier League history, beating the record of four minutes and 33 seconds set by Liverpool's Robbie Fowler in 1994 against Arsenal.

The hat-trick was part of an incredible first half, in which fellow summer signing Shane Long continued by slotting home from close range before hitting an incredible 40-yard effort to put Saints five up inside 38 minutes.

Christian Benteke pulled one back on the stroke of half-time with an exceptional header, but that did not save Tim Sherwood's FA Cup finalists trudging off at half-time to a chorus of boos.

Southampton's Irish striker Shane Long celebrates after scoring his second goal against Aston Villa
Southampton's Irish striker Shane Long celebrates after scoring his second goal against Aston Villa

Villa, who would have ensured survival with a win, improved after the break but were unable to keep Saints at bay, with Graziano Pelle volleying home to take Saints to 60 points - their best-ever Premier League return.

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