Southampton beat Burnley 2-0 at St Mary’s on Saturday, as Ronald Koeman’s side kept their top four hopes alive.
[ RELATED: Watch full match replay ]
The 2-0 scoreline perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story as Burnley played their part in an entertaining match in the sun on the south coast. Sam Vokes and Danny Ings both went close in the first half after Saints’ goalkeeper Fraser Forster was carried off injured, but then Shane Long struck to put the home side ahead.
A second half own goal from Ryan Shackell sealed the win for Saints as they enter the winter break on 53 points and in sixth place. As for Burnley, they stay in the bottom three on 25 points.
[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]
Forster was forced off with a nasty looking knee injury in the ninth minute after Ryan Bertrand played the ball back to Forster and the 6 foot 7 inch ‘keeper slipped under pressure as he cleared the ball. Forster immediately signaled to the bench that he needed to come off and after lengthy treatment, Kelvin Davis came on to replace him. Forster, who has the most shutouts in the PL, had his left knee strapped as he was stretchered off the pitch.
Soon after Ashley Barnes whipped in a great ball from the left which Ings cushioned down and Vokes smashed an instinctive effort on goal which substitute Davis tipped wide. Moments later Graziano Pelle deflected another Burnley effort over as the Clarets pushed hard and Jose Fonte looked to have brought down George Boyd in the box but referee Roger East waved away the penalty calls.
Saints gathered themselves after that flurry and Morgan Schneiderlin had an effort cleared over the bar before they took the lead in the 37th minute. Dusan Tadic’s clipped cross found its way to Nathaniel Clyne at the back post and his deflected effort went straight to Long who tapped home. 1-0.
Moments later it could have been 2-0 but Pelle somehow hit the crossbar from five-yards out and then right up the other end Davis made a wonderful save from Ings as Burnley always looked threat. Saints’ midfielder Steven Davis saw his looping header tipped onto the bar before the break as Vokes also had a header saved by Davis as an entertaining first half came to a close.
In the second half Saints continued to push hard and went 2-0 up in the 58th minute with Davis flicking the ball into Ryan Bertrand who saw his drilled shot his Ryan Shackell’s knee and ricochet into the net.
Southampton eased to victory after that killer second goal with Davis and Toby Alderweireld both going close again late on.
Koeman’s men are keeping the pressure on the current top four with eight games to go. Can they do keep up with the pack?
Southampton: Forster (Davis, 14′), Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Tadic (Wanyama, 45′), Mane, Long, Pelle.
Goals: Long (37′), Own goal – Shackell (58′)
Burnley: Heaton; Trippier, Shackell, Duff, Mee; Boyd, Arfield, Jones, Barnes (Wallace, 82′); Vokes (Jutkiewicz, 74′), Ings (Sordell, 88′)