Sunday 27 May 2018

Battling Saints give themselves a lifeline

Southampton 2 Bournemouth 1

Southampton's Nathan Redmond and Jan Bednarek celebrate after the match. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters
Southampton's Nathan Redmond and Jan Bednarek celebrate after the match. Photo: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Independent.ie newsdesk

Mark Hughes admits Southampton would have been doomed to Premier League relegation had they failed to beat south coast rivals Bournemouth.

Struggling Saints had not won a top-flight game at home in nine attempts since November, but Dusan Tadic's superb double ended that miserable run. Yesterday's victory, which was greeted by a huge roar from the home support, breathed fresh life into their battle to beat the drop.

Relieved manager Hughes, who picked up a solitary point from his opening four league matches after being appointed last month, said the three points were crucial.

"I think everybody understood the significance of the result for us, vitally important that we got maximum points," said Hughes. "A draw wouldn't have been enough to allow us to still be within a chance of staying in this league.

"It's been a challenge for everybody to get back to winning ways, it's been a long time, too long given the quality we have.

"It was a bit of a roller-coaster given the last five, 10 minutes, but we stuck at it, got blocks, headed things away, had two fantastic saves from Alex McCarthy. "

Southampton manager Mark Hughes. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Southampton manager Mark Hughes. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Match-winner Tadic was only a substitute for last weekend's FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, but he justified his selection against the Cherries with two composed finishes.

Bournemouth, whose long wait for a win at Southampton stretched to 14 games, threatened to spoil the home side's day when Josh King levelled in first-half stoppage time.

The Cherries must, though, wait another week to make their top-flight status mathematically certain, and boss Eddie Howe felt his side were below par.

"Overall I'm disappointed with the performance," said Howe. "For a footballing team, I thought we gave the ball away cheaply."

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