Southampton bounced back from defeat against Arsenal and continued their decent away form with a 3-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road. The result marks the the Saints’ second win since the restart of the Premier League; now on 40 points, 13 clear of the bottom three, it ensures they are almost certainly safe from the threat of relegation.
The visitors began the game strongly and took the lead through their top scorer Danny Ings. The striker latched onto a ball from Will Smallbone, and fired into the bottom right-hand corner from 20 yards past Watford keeper Ben Foster.
The home side, who were turgid throughout the game, became the architects of their own downfall in the second half as a loose throw from Foster went straight to the in-form Ings. Ings slotted the ball across the goalkeeper to make it 2-0 and move to 18 league goals for the season, 1 behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the Premier League golden boot. He is the first player to score 10 away goals in the Premier League this season – and the first Saints player to reach that tally since club legend Matt le Tissier in 1993-94.
Watford, attempting to mount a late comeback, made it 2-1 when Saints defender Jan Bednarek sliced the ball into his own net from an attempted clearance from a cross by Watford substitute José Holebas.
However, any hope of a grandstand finish was ended by Saints skipper James Ward-Prowse, just two minutes after the home-side had pulled one back. Awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Watford penalty area, the free-kick specialist placed the ball expertly in the corner to ensure that Southampton took home all three points.
Three almost came four when Nathan Redmond came close late on, but his effort was denied by the post.
Saints manager Ralph Hasenhutl told Sky Sports that his side ‘had the right game plan today‘ and were ‘concentrated‘, something which was not so evident in Thursday’s loss to Arsenal.
Hassenhuttl on Ings:
Nobody will deny how important a player he is for us. Everything is possible. We will play with him in the last six games, and if he gets a chance, you see how fantastic his finishing is. He seems to be fitter than ever, he was hard working in shutdown [lockdown]and that gives him now fantastic physical options. It’s definitely a sort of outrageous quality he has and when we scores it is
Ings himself told Sky Sports:
It was a physical battle and the lads really fought hard. After the last game, we were very disappointed. It was important we came here and did something about that. I just want to play each game and score as many goals as I can.
Southampton’s next fixture is at home to Manchester City in Premier League next Sunday (19:00 BST). The game is one of the few to be shown live on the BBC since the restart of professional football.