Southampton scored two goals in five second half minutes to record a vital 2-1 win over Watford at St. Mary's, their first Premier League victory at home since April.
Their pressure eventually played dividends. Moussa Djenepo danced his way into the box, and his prodded cross was bundled in by Danny Ings. James Ward-Prowse grabbed the winner for the Saints seven minutes from time with a masterfully struck free kick.
Cracking free-kick from Saint Ward of Prowse.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 30, 2019
Key Talking Point
Southampton are not a team lacking in quality by any stretch of the imagination. But in the first half, they were a side severely lacking in cutting edge. For all their possession in Watford's half, they did not really create any clear cut chances. There was no risk taking, no excitement, no flair.
Southampton having lots of the ball, but far too slow in possession. Soares in acres down the right but by the time Saints switch play the Watford midfield can slowly shuffle over #SOUWAT— Molly Hudson (@M0lly_Writes) November 30, 2019
#Saintsfc looking awful - nervous and frankly confused. They do seem to be following some kind of plan. But not one the players out there are able to follow.— SaintOxford (@SaintOxford) November 30, 2019
In the second half, they looked a completely different side. There was urgency, there was intensity and there was quality. They dominated the second 45 and eventually got their just rewards.
Starting XI: McCarthy (7*); Soares (5); Stephens (5); Bednarek (5); Bertrand (5); Djenepo (7); Ward-Prowse (7);
Substitutes: Boufal (6); Long (6);
STAR PLAYER: Alex McCarthy
The Southampton stopper kept his side in the game in the first half, with two good saves from Sarr, and another from Deulofeu. While his defence looked shaky at times, McCarthy was solid.
His saves proved vital, giving Southampton a fighting chance in the second, which they went on to seize. While Ward-Prowse will get the glory for his fine free kick, a winning goal would not have been on the cards had it not been for the heroics of McCarthy in the first half.
Alex McCarthy is the best player in this Southampton team. Let that sink in #SOUWAT— richard foster 礪 (@rcfoster) November 30, 2019
Key Talking Point
This was a perfect away performance from Watford in the first half. They sat back, soaked up the Southampton pressure and utilised Sarr's speed up top with a quick goal on the counter attack.
But in the second half, Watford invited Southampton onto them, and in the end, the pressure inevitably took its toll. There will be regrets over the opportunities they missed in the first half, but they were completely overrun in the second. They finally came alive again when they went 2-1 down, but it was too little too late.
Starting XI: Foster (6);
Substitutes: Gray (5); Chalobah (5);
STAR PLAYER: Ismaila Sarr
With a £40m price tag weighing heavily around his neck, it has not been an easy introduction to English football for the Senegalese international. However, there were no signs of the pressure of his transfer fee today, as he slotted home expertly within the opening 25 minutes.
The striker was a constant thorn in the side of Southampton defence, who had no answer to his pace as he stretched them and got in behind on numerous occasions. But he was just as effective when he received the ball to feet; Sarr demonstrated his skill to create an opening for himself and then the confidence to shoot from distance, as he sent a second half effort fizzing over the bar.
Southampton welcome fellow strugglers Norwich to St. Mary's on Wednesday, in what will be another massive opportunity for R
There's no let up for Watford, who face a tricky looking trip to goal happy Leicester on Wednesday.