SOUTHAMPTON — It was utter domination from start to finish from Southampton against Fulham on Saturday, as the home side won 2-0 thanks to a rampant display at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Rickie Lambert headed Saints in front after 20 minutes, before Jay Rodriguez doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. The home side created numerous chances in the second half after out-shooting Fulham 20-2 in an extremely one-sided affair, but the two first half strikes did the damage.
Fulham simply couldn’t handle the home sides high-pressure approach as Southampton continued their best start to a top-flight season since 1983-84, with a fifth win from their opening nine games. Saints’ also kept their superb defensive record going with a sixth clean sheet in nine games. They have conceded just three times this season, the best record in the Premier League.
The Saints now sit third and are just four points behind league-leaders Arsenal, while Fulham stay in 15th.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men made a bright start as Adam Lallana picked up the ball in the box following a lapse pass from Philippe Senderos and drilled a ball across goal that Marteen Stekelenburg pushed out and Morgan Schneiderlin’s follow up shot was cleared off the line.
Predictably Saints pressed high, as they aimed to force the issue early on at St. Mary’s and the relentless juggernaut of red shirts just keep coming as the Cottagers.
In the 17th minute Kenyan international Victor Wanyama smashed a low drive past the far post, as Saints continued to push forward. And soon Southampton were rewarded for their bright start as Lambert grabbed the opener on the 20 minute mark.
18-year-old James Ward-Prowse whipped in a great corner that was flicked on at the near post by Jay Rodriguez and Lambert lost his man at the back post to nod home his third Premier League goal of the season.
The Saints were rampant after the opening goal, as Jay Rodriguez took on three Fulham players before forcing Stekelenburg into a good low stop for another Saints corner.
As for Fulham, they hardly threatened as Darren Bent and Dimitar Berbatov cut frustrated figures up top. Before half time there was a brief lull in the game.
In the 35th minute Rickie Lambert cut in from the left after Schneiderlin won the ball well, and smashed a low shot off the post as he he almost grabbed his and Southampton’s second.
Lambert again went close with a back post header in the 38th minute, as Luke Shaw’s follow up shot was deflected into the side-netting for a corner. The relentless pressure continued.
And in the 42nd minute the Saints went 2-0 up as captain Lallana curled in a perfect ball to the back post and found Lambert who nodded across goal for Rodriguez to head home his second PL goal of the year. It was Southampton’s 13th effort of the first half, as they went in ahead at the break.
After the interval Saints continued to carve out chances as Wanyama rose highest following Ward-Prowse’s cross, but headed his effort wide.
After 59 minutes intricate play from Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Lambert saw the latter’s cross cleared away by Steve Sidwell as the Saints pressed for a third. Fulham were bamboozled by Saints’ movement and the Saints kept the ball for large swathes of the second period as ‘ole’s’ rung around St. Mary’s. Fulham should have broken through but Dimitar Berbatov couldn’t control a clever reserve pass, and as the Bulgarian striker looked to the heavens it summed up Fulham’s nightmare evening on the South Coast.
And the entire stadium rose to it’s feet to applaud Rodriguez in the 67th minute, as the Englishman sent a spectacular scissor-kick just wide of the near post after Ward-Prowse’s cross found him on the edge of the box. Fulham’s midfield were chasing shadows as Sidwell and Scott Parker couldn’t get close to the impressive Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Ward-Prowse and Rodriguez.
A flurry of late substitutions saw Saints close things out, with yet another three points and another impressive display under their belt.
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse (Cork, 90), Lallana, Rodriguez (Do Prado, 78), Lambert.
Fulham: Stekelenburg; Riether (Hughes, 46), Senderos, Amorebieta, Richardson; Ruiz (Kacaniklic, 80), Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Berbatov; Bent (Rodallega, 74)