For match photos, scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left; for match stats, click on the stats tab. Manager reaction below.
Southampton sent Fulham to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table with an emphatic 3-0 victory at Craven Cottage.
Mauricio Pochettino's men produced a magnificent second-half display to seal their first win at the home of the London club for over 66 years. The result condemned Fulham to a fourth straight top-flight defeat and left Rene Meulensteen's side three points adrift of safety.
Southampton took the lead just after the hour as Adam Lallana marked his 250th appearance for the club with a goal. From there, Fulham's resistance wilted, with Southampton's lead doubled after 70 minutes through Rickie Lambert's simple finish. Jay Rodriguez capped off the win in fine style with a magnificent strike from the edge of the area following a superb counter-attack from the visitors.
Fulham, who handed debuts to new signings William Kvist and Lewis Holtby, spent much of the opening stages on the back foot and almost fell behind as Maarten Stekelenburg was forced into a reflex save after Steve Sidwell had turned Rodriguez's cross towards his own net.
The visitors continued to dictate play in the first half, but struggled to create any meaningful opportunities. Calum Chambers flashed a shot wide just before 20 minutes. Meulensteen's men soon responded and would have levelled if not for Artur Boruc, who produced a fine stop to keep out Brede Hangeland's close-range header.
Still, Southampton enjoyed the better of the play, midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin drawing another strong save from Stekelenburg before Maya Yoshida glanced a header wide. Most of Fulham's threat came via striker Darren Bent, who was twice denied by Boruc shortly before the interval, first from a left-footed volley, then from a near-post effort after the striker had broken free of the Southampton defence.
Southampton brought on Jack Cork in place of Victor Wanyama at half-time, and the visitors almost broke the deadlock early in the second half as Schneiderlin's spectacular overhead kick flew just over the crossbar. Lallana tested Stekelenburg but beat the Fulham goalkeeper after 64 minutes as he drilled home a superb left-footed finish after latching on to a through-ball from Lambert.
Southampton gained in confidence following the goal, Steven Davis and Schneiderlin both seeing goalbound efforts blocked. The second goal soon arrived as Lambert struck his eighth of the season. The England striker had the simple task of slotting home from close range after Nathaniel Clyne's low cross had found him unmarked in the area.
Pochettino's team refused to take their foot off the gas and Rodriguez appled the gloss to a fine display 15 minutes from time, cutting on to his right foot and curling past a despairing Stekelenburg and into the top corner.
Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen: "We are in a situation where we seem to have to drag the ball over the line. Artur Boruc made some great saves. It was the same against Swansea. We should have taken the lead but we didn't.
"The second goal really killed us. We have to work hard and keep lifting ourselves. It (going bottom) was always a possibility. Now we have to stand up for ourselves. At least we have some new faces in and guys who can breathe a bit of confidence into the group."
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: “In the first half we were a bit mistaken about our set up. We knew Fulham were going to be defending deep and would want to close down the space for us and that they were going to go on the counter attack.
“In the second half we corrected certain positions such as Rickie [Lambert], Adam [Lallana] and Jay Rodriguez’s positions on the pitch and tat allowed us to get the goal which opened up the game for us. Overall we controlled the game.
“It was very important that the three strikers got goals and that’s always going to increase their chances of making it to Brazil [as part of Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad].”
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|22 Feb 2014||v West Brom (A)|