Saints pull further clear of danger with Wolves win

By SFC Media Sat 13 Apr Saints v Wolves
Photo by Matt Watson | Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Sat 13 Apr 3PM
Premier League
Southampton
3
Wolverhampton Wanderers
1
Redmond [2' 30'] Long [71']
Boly [28']
Bertrand (67')
Moutinho (40') Jiménez (45+2') Saïss (74')
Referee: Jonathan Moss | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 31,708

Southampton moved a commanding eight points clear of relegation with five games to go, edging a frantic first half and a more controlled second to see off Wolves at St Mary’s.

Nathan Redmond’s second-minute opener set the tone, as the winger charged into the box to meet a low cross from opposite wide man Josh Sims.

Back came Wolves, drawing level through Willy Boly’s thumping header, but Saints created a flurry of chances before the interval, one of which was coolly finished by Redmond for his second of the day.

The visitors were less threatening after the break, and any hopes of a Wolves comeback from a boisterous away following were extinguished when substitute Shane Long prodded home the killer third.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made two changes to his side who threatened to derail Liverpool’s title challenge last time out, as Danny Ings was recalled having been ineligible to face his parent club, while Sims was handed a first Premier League start in over a year.

Dropping to the bench were Long, Saints’ goalscorer against the Reds, and Oriol Romeu, whose absence meant a more defensive role for James Ward-Prowse.

Sims’s impact would be immediate. When Boly towered over the diminutive winger, the Wolves man could only head the ball as far as Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, who immediately fed the ball to Sims with space to run into.

That’s when the 22-year-old excels. Bringing back memories of a certain League Cup semi-final at Anfield, he left Boly in his wake before sliding the ball across goal, where Redmond did exceptionally well to get beyond Romain Saïss at the near post and find the roof of the net from six yards.

It was just the sort of sharp counter-attacking fast becoming Saints’ trademark under Hasenhüttl.

Redmond darts in front of Saïss to break the deadlock at St Mary's

Wolves were coming into this game on the back of their most gut-wrenching result of the season – perhaps several seasons – against Watford and Wembley, and the instant opener will have done nothing to improve their morale.

But to their credit the visitors responded brightly. Rúben Neves blasted a half-volley that was only diverted away from goal by the bravery of Jannik Vestergaard, before Leander Dendoncker headed only fractionally wide from João Moutinho’s inviting free-kick.

Wolves’ front two of Diogo Jota and Raúl Jiménez, the club-record signing, have been responsible for most of their goals of late and were starting to worry Saints.

Jota surged into the box, where his shot deflected behind for a corner, leaving Jiménez frustrated he wasn’t spotted having been left unattended at the far post.

Then Jiménez himself went alone as he waited patiently to negotiate a shooting position and forced a first save from Angus Gunn, diving low to his left in the 20th minute.

Eight minutes later, Wolves had the equaliser their positive response to falling behind merited.
Saints will have been frustrated by its simplicity, though the desire with which Boly powered Moutinho’s corner into the net deserves a mention. It was an unstoppable header.

The travelling supporters were buoyant, but not for long, as Saints fought back in a breathless first half.

Redmond, earlier denied by goalkeeper Rui Patrício, was clearly full of confidence having ended a run of seven games without a goal.

That confidence was there for all to see when put through by Ings, sitting Patrício on his backside as he scooped the ball over him for number two.

Racing away with his hand to his ear, the ex-Birmingham City player was enjoying putting Wolves in their place.

Redmond's clever dink over Rui Patrício puts Saints back in front

Saints smelled blood and went after a third, with the visitors at times architects of their own downfall.

Sims, who was involved again in the second goal, might have had two for himself before half time.

First he burst through with Ings in support but ignored the striker and dragged a low shot wide of the far post, before Ings played another defence-splitting pass to send the youngster clean through on goal after Conor Coady gave away possession.

Sims’s intentions were clear as he let the ball run across his body and tried to curl it inside the far post, but he opened up his right foot too far and never got the desired shape on his shot, which drifted away from its target.

Wolves will have been concerned by their defending but optimistic of scoring more goals, and returned after the break on the front foot.

Jota collected Jonny Otto’s cutback, sidestepped Vestergaard and blasted over from a position of promise.

The second half had been quiet by comparison to the first, but with an hour played both managers were ready to make changes.

Two of Saints’ influential attacking trio from the first period were sacrificed, as Romeu and Long replaced Sims and Ings, while Wolves introduced speed merchant Adama Traoré to play down the right flank in place of Matt Doherty.

Traoré’s first contribution was to breeze past Ryan Bertrand and Vestergaard before delivering a teasing cross importantly met by Jan Bednarek, rather than one of Traoré’s gold-shirted colleagues.

When the Wolves substitute forced a corner from another driving run, Maya Yoshida’s clearance dropped kindly for Jiménez, only for the Mexican to make such a mess of his attempted volley that the ball sailed out of play for a throw-in.

Romeu celebrates with his fellow substitute after Long's second goal in two games

It was to prove a fun few minutes for Yoshida. Just after having his blushes spared by the wildly off target Jiménez, the defender turned provider for Saints’ third goal.

A typically troublesome Ward-Prowse corner tempted Yoshida into an overhead kick, which bounced back to the Japanese international, who adjusted admirably to steer the ball into the path of Long, allowing the striker a simple task of turning it beyond Patrício from close range.

Saints were sitting pretty with 20 minutes left, and things nearly got even better as Yoshida was only denied his own place on the scoresheet by a point-blank Patrício save.

The hosts continued to chase further goals rather than simply protecting their lead – another sign of the increased self-belief under Hasenhüttl, who has now led his team to four wins in their last six Premier League matches.

Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Wolverhampton Wanderers
  • Possession (%)
    31
    69
  • Shots
    12
    17
  • Shots on target
    6
    2
  • Corners
    4
    9
  • Passes Complete
    180
    505

Southampton

28
Angus Gunn (GK)
4
Jannik Vestergaard
35
Jan Bednarek
3
Maya Yoshida
21
Ryan Bertrand
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
43
Yan Valery
Jack Stephens (84′)
16
James Ward-Prowse
22
Nathan Redmond
39
Josh Sims
Oriol Romeu (61′)
9
Danny Ings
Shane Long (61′)
14
Oriol Romeu
17
Stuart Armstrong
33
Matt Targett
5
Jack Stephens
10
Charlie Austin
1
Alex McCarthy
7
Shane Long

Wolverhampton Wanderers

11
Rui Patrício (GK)
16
Conor Coady (C)
27
Romain Saïss
15
Willy Boly
2
Matt Doherty
Adama Traoré (60′)
8
Rúben Neves
Morgan Gibbs-White (69′)
28
João Moutinho
32
Leander Dendoncker
19
Jonny
18
Diogo Jota
Hélder Costa (87′)
9
Raúl Jiménez
29
Rúben Vinagre
17
Morgan Gibbs-White
21
John Ruddy
7
Ivan Cavaleiro
5
Ryan Bennett
10
Hélder Costa
37
Adama Traoré
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