Aston Villa had a mere 23% of the possession at St. Mary’s on Wednesday, yet walked away the winners, hitting Southampton with lethal counter-attacks. It’s the third straight loss for the Saints who, after a fantastic start to the season, have now slid down into seventh. Villa, however, just may have hit their stride, having moved back up into tenth with their fifth straight unbeaten match.
The goals began in the fifteenth minute off a classic counter attack. Jay Rodriguez had just seen his thundering shot from distance saved, allowing Villa to sprint up the pitch ahead of Southampton. Gabby Agbonlahor took the ball from the halfway line and, alongside Libor Kozák, went two on one with Dejan Lorven. Agbonlahor easily gave the defender the slip and put the ball into the bottom corner.
It seemed inevitable there’d be more goals, and sure enough, Southampton started off the second half quickly, with Rodriguez getting his head on the end of a cross from Nathaniel Clyne to put the ball past Brad Guzan. Moments later, Rickie Lambert had a go, but his shot from more than 35 yards was blocked. It was clear that the hosts were intent on a winner, pressing forward and trying to get past a normally fragile Villa defense.
But again it was Villa, and again from almost nothing. A quick counter allowed Karim El Ahmadi the chance to put a cross through to Kozák, waiting in the center. The Czech got his head on the end of it, smashing in from close range, although it must be said that stand-in Saints keeper Paolo Gazzaniga did a bit to help bring it into the back of the net.
The visitors had their lead for a mere five minutes this time, and then their defense fell to pieces. A headed pass from Lambert, who was lurking near the post, was met by Pablo Osvaldo, who was clear to head it into the back of the net.
In the end, though, it was Southampton, who had kept such a strong defensive record for the first ten games, who allowed the final goal. Fabian Delph took the ball up from midfield, scaring off the Saints defense as he went. The midfielder let fly from distance, his scorcher rising and finally settling into the top corner of Gazzaniga’s net.
Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne (Fonte 59), Yoshida, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama (Cork 45), S. Davis, Ward-Prowse (Osvaldo 38), Lallana, Rodriguez, Lambert
Subs not used: Cropper, Chambers, Hooiveld, Gallagher
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar (Lowton), Clark, Baker, Luna, El Ahmadi (Weimann 86), Westwood, Delph, Agbonlahor, Kozák (Benteke 66)
Subs not used: Steer, Albrighton, Sylla, Tonev