REPORT: Southampton 3-1 Swansea City
Saints picked up their second league win of the season with a comfortable victory over Swansea City at St Mary’s.
A first Southampton goal for Virgil van Dijk was followed up by second half strikes from Dušan Tadić and Sadio Mané as Saints blew the Swans away with a confident performance, long before Gylfi Sigurdsson reduced arrears from the penalty spot late in the game.
Matches between Saints and Swansea have been close affairs in recent times, so the first goal always seemed pivotal in this meeting, and it arrived on 11 minutes from centre-back Van Dijk, who powered in to meet Ward-Prowse’s corner to give the hosts a vital lead.
Although Saints controlled in parts, the contest appeared to go to form in the first half, but Ronald Koeman’s men ended the prospect of a nerve shredding second 45 when Dušan Tadić got his third league goal of the season with a neat close range finish
Mané made it 3-0 with an excellent drive from the edge of the area, but the clean sheet was lost on 83 minutes when JoséFonte’s foul on Neil Taylor inside the area led to a spot-kick which Sigurdsson converted for 3-1.
Saints handed Ryan Bertrand his first league start of the season after the left back came through 35 minutes on his return to first team action in midweek.
Graziano Pellè, Victor Wanyama, James Ward-Prowse and Dušan Tadić also all returned to the starting eleven for the hosts.
Swansea named former Saints man Jack Cork in their starting line-up, as the midfielder made his first return to St Mary’s since departing the south coast earlier this year.
Koeman’s men quickly imposed themselves on the Swans with a pressing style from kick-off that immediately put the visitors under pressure, leading to a hurried clearance in his own area from Jonjo Shelvey inside the opening 30 seconds of play.
That set the tone for a dominant start by the hosts, with Mané firing over in the fourth minute on the back of a patient move forward.
Swansea briefly threatened when Shelvey took aim from distance with a shot reminiscent of the one for his goal last season. Maarten Stekelenburg fisted the effort away and then saw Ki shoot over on the rebound.
It was back to Saints thereafter with Pellè playing in Mané on the left side of the area where the Senegalese dragged his shot narrowly wide of the far post.
The opening goal arrived soon after with the hosts taking an eleventh minute lead. James Ward-Prowse’s corner was met by Virgil van Dijk who powerfully headed home from inside the six yard box at the near post.
It was a strike that gave Saints further impetus and came as a reward for the home side’s positive start to the contest.
Swansea restricted themselves to efforts from distance, with Shelvey again smashing a shot over on 19 minutes after he was afforded too much room.
Ki then tested Stekelenburg with a low striker which the keeper let slip, but fortunately to no advantage for the visitors.
Wanyama went into the book for second strong challenge of the game according to official Roger East, which was one of a few decisions he made that had irked the home supporters in the first half.
There was a hold up while Lukasz Fabianski received treatment following a collision with Pellè, but Saints remained on the front-foot as the opening 45 minutes reached its climax, with Mané having two further efforts towards goal, the latter of which saw curled narrowly wide.
Éder and Jefferson Montero were each brought on by the visitors at the start of the second half in place of Gomis and Cork respectively, as Swansea attempted to get back into the game.
The Welsh side’s hopes were dashed nine minutes after the restart when Saints struck their second goal of the game, with Dušan Tadić the scorer.
It arrived after neat build up from all of Saints front three players which culminated in Pellè lofting the ball into the path of the Serbian, who took the ball to the byline where he dinked it over Fabianski via a deflection at the near post for 2-0.
It was 3-0 on 61 minutes when Sadio Mané delivered a neat and controlled finish to put the game out of reach for the visitors.
The Senegalese rolled the ball into the bottom corner just inside the area, after a weak clearance from a block on Pellè’s tame shot.
Saints almost made it four on 67 minutes from a free-kick after Pellè had been blocked off by Fernandez on the edge of the area. The resulting set-piece saw Ward-Prowse and Romeu form a wall immediately in-front of Tadić and Van Dijk, with the latter striking a fierce effort on target which Fabianski could only gather at the second attempt.
Pellè then saw a header saved from a follow up corner as Saints looked likely to increase their lead.
A block from the outstretched boot of van Dijk to deny Shelvey inside the area ensured that the three goal margin was intact by the time Saints made their second change of the game which saw Jay Rodriguez replace Tadić.
Swansea grabbed themselves a consolation on 83 minutes moments after Romeu had been booked for clip on Éder.
His teammate Fonte followed him into the book for lunge on Neil Taylor inside the area, which handed the Swans a late penalty. Gylfi Sigurdsson converted the spot-kick by going down the middle, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.
Southampton team: Maarten Stekelenburg, Cédric Soares, José Fonte (c), Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand, Victor Wanyama, James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis (Oriol Romeu 62), Dušan Tadić (Jay Rodriguez 74), Sadio Mané (Juanmi 85), Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Maya Yoshida, Shane Long, Cuco Martina
Booked: Wanyama (44), Romeu (81), Fonte (83)
Goals: Van Dijk (11), Tadić (54), Mané (61)
Swansea City team: Lukasz Fabianski, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams (c), Federico Fernandez, Kyle Naughton, Ki Sung-Yueng, Jack Cork (Jefferson Montero 46), Gylfi Sigurdsson, Jonjo Shelvey (Leon Britton 79), Bafétimbi Gomis (Éder 46), André Ayew. Unused substitutes: Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Wayne Routledge, Angel Rangel, Kyle Bartley
Booked: Shelvey (76)
Goal: Sigurdsson (pen 83)
Referee: Roger East
Attendance: 30,704 (including 1,724 away)