The Saints are marching in, indeed. And on. And up. Southampton’s all-too-easy victory over Hull City, combined with Chelsea’s draw with West Brom, puts the Saints in third place. Sure, Everton could cancel that out with a late victory over Crystal Palace, but it’s still certain: this start is not a fluke from Southampton.
The first half could hardly have gone better for Southampton, who saw themselves into fourth by the time the whistle blew for the break. The hosts had their first goal after a quarter of an hour had passed. Rickie Lambert wiggled his way in between two Hull defenders, heading across the face of goal. An inrushing Morgan Schneiderlin got his head on the end of the pass, knocking it past Steve Harper.
Hull very nearly had an instant reply, taking advantage of a slight slip in the Saints’ defense as the visitors sent in a corner. However, Paul McShane’s header went high, and that was about the last time the Tigers showed signs of life in the first half.
Instead it was Southampton who found a second. Harper came rushing out of goal and slid into Lallana, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Lambert stepped up to take, smashing the shot into the roof of the net.
But the Saints weren’t done just yet. Less than ten minutes later, Lallana put in the third, all before 40 minutes were up. The Englishman’s individual goal must’ve impressed Roy Hodgson, there to keep an eye on his three England callups. About 30 yards out, Lallana received the ball from Lambert then took it up the left, weaving and dancing around two Hull defenders. He easily slipped around Ahmed Elmohamady to send the ball across Harper and into the top corner.
For those just glancing at the scoreline, it seemed like Bruce’s halftime talk may have actually had some effect — after all, Hull managed to grab a goal 10 minutes after the restart. But in fact it was a bit of a mix up from Artur Boruc that started it all. The Southampton goalkeeper elected to pass the ball to Victor Wanyama, who was being closed down by Yannick Sabo. Sabo snatched away the ball to put it in the back of the net.
Although Bruce did his best to ring the changes, Southampton were more than up to the challenge. In fact, there was little challenge, what with Jake Livermore placing his shot high, and Robert Koren heading the ball wide.
The Saints took advantage instead, grabbing yet another in the 88th minute. Nathaniel Clyne put in the cross and substitute Steven Davis, on for Wanyama, easily slid the ball past Harper and into the bottom corner. Job well done for Southampton.
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama (S. Davis 63), Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse, Lallana (Cork 84), Rodriguez, Lambert (Osvaldo 76)
Subs not used: K. Davis, Chambers, Hooiveld, Gallagher
Goals: Schneiderlin 16′; Lambert 30′; Lallana 37′; Davis 88′
Hull City: Harper, Rosenior, Figueroa, Davies, McShane, Elmohamady (Koren 45), Boyd (Quinn 80), Meyler (Graham 73), Huddlestone, Livermore, Sagbo
Subs not used: Jakupovic, Bruce, Gedo, Proschwitz
Goals: Sagbo 55′