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Southampton moved into the top five of the Barclays Premier League with a battling 2-0 win over Swansea City at St Mary’s Stadium.
The hosts impressed in the opening 25 minutes and took the lead through Adam Lallana, but Swansea came back into the contest and were unlucky not to equalise before the break as Nathan Dyer hit a post. Swansea dominated the second half, but for all their possession they struggled to create chances as the home side added a second in the 83rd minute through substitute Jay Rodriguez.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino made only the one change from their win over Crystal Palace as Danny Fox comes in for Luke Shaw, who missed out through illness. Swansea were in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday and Michael Laudrup rotated his squad by making five changes. Michel Vorm, Angel Rangel, Dyer, Jonjo Shelvey and Jose Canas returned to the starting XI, with Jonathan De Guzman and Leon Britton among those who missed out.
The visitors started the match brightly as Dyer looked to attack down the right, but Daniel Osvaldo was presented with the first chance as he held off Chico Flores before shooting over from a tight angle. Southampton began to take control and break the deadlock 19 minutes in. Steven Davis played a controlled half-volley into the area for Lallana and the wide man burst away from Ben Davies before slotting past Vorm.
Swansea had three good chances to equalise in quick succession as Artur Boruc palmed away Michu’s header and a deflected Shelvey effort. Their best chance came 10 minutes before half-time, however, as Dyer cut on to his left foot and fired a powerful effort on to a post.
The visitors continued to threaten after the break, but failed to find the net as Southampton academy graduate Dyer sliced a shot wide inside the area, while Wilfried Bony nodded Rangel’s cross over Boruc’s goal. As the match progressed towards the hour mark, Swansea were the only side that looked like scoring, but were finding it increasingly difficult to break through their hosts’ defence.
Despite Swansea’s superiority, Southampton were the next side to have the ball in the net as Victor Wanyama knocked in a corner, but referee Mike Dean disallowed it. Southampton did double their lead with seven minutes remaining.
Chico failed to deal with a long ball from defence and substitute Rodriguez bullied him off the ball before stroking a shot into the bottom corner. The home side held on for a fourth straight Barclays Premier League clean sheet to cement a fine start to the campaign.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: “We played against a great opponent like Swansea, there were different parts of the game where we dominated the game and others where Swansea did. I am delighted with the three points and it is very good form to take into this two-week break ahead of the game with Manchester United.
"Everything comes to an end and everything starts again but we knew the goals would come and we are pleased with that. I don't know where we will finish, I don't have a crystal ball and the most important thing is to prepare for every game and getting the three points.
"He [Osvaldo] is fine, he took a heavy challenge but it was a tactical change. We had to balance our midfield and that is why we brought James Ward-Prowse on."
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup: "With the positive glasses on, we performed very well and apart from the first 15 to 20 minutes, we dominated the game and we had our chances, especially in the first half. They got a nice goal but we just continued and after that we really came into the game - the whole second half was just us - but we still need too many chances to score.
"I can't say anything about the performance. I said after the St Gallen game that they [the Swiss side] deserved more, but today we deserved more. I have analysed a lot of our games but we don't seem to have problems in the second halves and that is good, but again it depends how the game is going because we were dominating. We had the ball the whole time and you don't feel the tiredness, but we couldn't get the equaliser and then in the last five minutes, they got the second goal.
"We created chances, which is important, but we need to be more clinical in these games. But on the other hand, we won in Europe when we were clinical. The most important thing is that we do create chances and in some games, and not all, that in the last third we have to finish a bit more.
"We have played seven games and have one point less than last year and four away games and three home games that have been Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Now we have a break which is good after seven games in 20 days.
"We have three home games in four and a derby with Cardiff so that will be an important month."
|19 Oct 2013||v Man Utd (A)|
|26 Oct 2013||v Fulham (H)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Stoke (A)|
|09 Nov 2013||v Hull (H)|
|23 Nov 2013||v Arsenal (A)|
|01 Dec 2013||v Chelsea (A)|