A faultless Southampton display in front of 2,000 returning fans at St Mary’s saw them put three past struggling Sheffield United and climb in to the top four.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made one change to the team that beat Brighton last time out.
Danny Ings was deemed fit enough to return to the starting 11. This meant Theo Walcott moved back to his more natural position on the left of the Saints midfield and Moussa Djenepo dropped to the bench.
Southampton were facing a struggling Sheffield United side who came into the game rock bottom of the table having only amassed a single point from their opening eleven games.
The first half was a reflection of the two sides current positions in the Premier League table.
The Saints ever-present intensity to their play saw them dominate proceedings. Remarkably having 80% of the ball in the first 45 minutes and looking dangerous every time they went forward.
Just after the half hour mark their strong start was rewarded.
Unsurprisingly, it came from a James Ward-Prowse set-piece. The Saints captain clipped in a teasing ball which was initially headed up rather than out by Phil Jageilka. Jan Bednarek was first to the second ball guiding it back into the 6 yard box for the alert Che Adams to net his 4th goal of the season with an instinctive finish at the near post.
The only concern for the Saints was that they entered the break only a goal to the good.
This concern was briefly heightened as Sheffield United came out strongly in the opening minutes of the second half. Chris Wilder had clearly demanded more from his team and they responded. Creating chances and most notably coming close through a John Egan header from close range.
It was thanks to the resolute defending from Jan Bednerak and Jannick Vestergaard that the Saints were able to deal with the temporary United threat and stay ahead.
Much to the delight of the fans, the tides quickly turned back in the favor of the home side.
The Saints started dominating again and as the game just passed the hour mark they doubled their advantage through a Stuart Armstrong deflected effort.
It came after good play on the counter-attack from the Scot who linked up well with Danny Ings and fashioned a chance with neat footwork on the edge of the box. His eventual effort found the back of the net after it wrong-footed United keeper Aaron Ramsdale from a Phil Jagielka deflection.
There was an air of confidence to the Saints play now and they were keen to put on a show for the returning 2,000 fans who haven’t seen their team play for 9 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With just over five minutes to play, substitute Nathan Redmond capped off a brilliant Saints performance by adding an exquisite 3rd goal. The winger picked up a loose ball and, after playing a one-two with our man of the match Oriol Romeu, he guided a curled effort into the far corner of Aaron Ramsdale’s net.
The win cements the Saints place in the top 4 of the Premier League and helps their fight for a European spot come the end of the season.
They will look to earn another 3 points on Wednesday night at the Emirates stadium as they face an Arsenal side who have suffered some embarrassing results lately.
Post- match reactions:
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was understandably delighted with his sides dominant performance and in his post-match interview he mentioned the importance of having fans back in the stadium:
‘It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful in front of our fans coming back, and the guys really enjoyed it. I was having a few tears in my eyes because it’s a moment where it’s different, to win in front of them, even if it’s only a few thousand.‘
‘It’s amazing, the atmosphere, you could feel how much they enjoyed watching us. We wanted to give everything they wanted to see from us, everything we have learned and improved, and that was a perfect Sunday really. It was fantastic.‘
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 3-0 Sheffield United (Adams 34′) (Armstrong 62′) (Redmond 83′)
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Armstrong, Romeu (Diallo 86′), Ward-Prowse, Walcott (Redmond 80′), Adams (N’Lundulu 86′), Ings. Unused subs: Forster, Stephens, Salisu, Djenepo
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Baldock, Basham (Mousset 70′), Egan, Jagielka, Stevens (booked), Berge, Ampudu, Fleck, McBurnie (McGoldrick 48′), Sharp (Brewster 60′) Unused subs: Lundstrum, Robinson, Verrips, Osborn
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)
Referee: Andy Madley