Norwich City's Premier League status slipped even further away on Friday evening as Southampton cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory at Carrow Road.
The first half was a real stop-start affair. Norwich enjoyed plenty of possession early on, but it was Southampton who created the best chances. Danny Ings struck the crossbar after 33 minutes, but neither goalkeeper was really tested during the first 45.
Ings remained the danger man in the second half and needed just four minutes to open the scoring, firing home a fantastic curling effort. It was 2-0 soon after as Stuart Armstrong somehow waltzed through three Norwich defenders to fire home. With the floodgates now open, Nathan Redmond stroked home a third and sealed what was ultimately a routine victory for the Saints.
Key Talking Point
For Norwich, it's same-old, same-old. The Canaries looked comfortable in possession and had a few moments of exciting movement, but there was simply no quality in the final third. Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy might as well not have even been there.
Daniel Farke has spoken of needing a 'little miracle' to survive the drop, and with performances like this, it's not hard to see why. Norwich seem unable to take their chances, and their defence is far too unreliable.
Losing captain Grant Hanley for the season looks to have left Norwich in a real mess, and on this performance, they don't look capable of getting themselves out of it.
Starting XI: Krul (6); Aarons (7*), Klose (5), Godfrey (6), Lewis (5); Trybull (5), McLean (5); Buendía (5), Drmić (4), Cantwell (5); Pukki (3).
Substitutes: Hernández (6), Vrančić (6), Duda (N/A), Idah (N/A), Martin (N/A).
STAR MAN - Max Aarons
There's so much potential in Max Aarons, but there's also a lot which needs addressing. His love of flying forward was evident throughout this game, but so was his tendency to get caught out of position.
His clearance off the line stopped Norwich from going three goals down around the hour mark and he looked genuinely determined to get his side back into the game, but the damage was already done by then.
Should Norwich go down, Aarons would make an exciting signing for any team, but he's a real work-in-progress.
Key Talking Point
Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl is clearly taking this relegation battle seriously. He put pride to one side by naming Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in his starting lineup, despite recently stripping the Dane of the captaincy over his desire to leave.
If Højbjerg's head is elsewhere, he didn't show it during this game. The midfielder was comfortable and composed in the heart of the park, flying around to shield his defence, and he still looked well up for a relegation battle.
Finding someone to replace Højbjerg will not be an easy task for Southampton. His power and determination in midfield is key what Hasenhüttl wants his side to do, so finding the right man to come in and do his job will be one of the biggest tasks of the summer.
Starting XI: McCarthy (6); Valery (5), Stephens (7), Bednarek (7), Bertrand (7); Redmond (7), Ward-Prowse (7), Højbjerg (7), Armstrong (7); Obafemi (6), Ings (8*).
Substitutes: Adams (N/A), Smallbone (N/A), Tella (N/A), Boufal (N/A), Walker-Peters (N/A).
STAR MAN - Danny Ings
Ings' fantastic season continues.
The Southampton man was on his toes throughout and always looked like the most-likely source of a goal. He had a few good chances before the interval, including sending a good chance crashing against the bar, but he got his well-deserved goal soon after and had a major hand in creating his side's second.
Even at the other end, Ings was the reason Norwich didn't take the lead, pulling out a last-ditch challenge to deny what would have been a certain goal. This victory was down to Ings.
Norwich's next attempt at kick-starting the impossible will come against Everton at Carrow Road on Wednesday evening.
As for Southampton, they will welcome Arsenal to St Mary's Stadium on Thursday.