Graziano Pelle scored a stunning second-half winner as Southampton continued their fine start under Ronald Koeman with a 2-1 triumph over Queens Park Rangers.
Pelle, a summer signing from Feyenoord, found the net with an overhead strike to secure a sixth successive win in all competitions for Southampton. Ryan Bertrand had opened the scoring for the hosts early in the second half with his first goal for Southampton, which also served as his maiden strike in the Barclays Premier League.
QPR looked to have sealed a share of the spoils for Harry Redknapp against his former club when Charlie Austin levelled matters in style with his second of the campaign. But Redknapp's hopes were dashed by Pelle, whose goal keeps Southampton in second place in the table.
It did not take long for Southampton to threaten the QPR defence as Robert Green was forced to deny Dusan Tadic after just five minutes, and the visitors' task was made even harder when midfielder Sandro was forced off with a head injury following an aerial challenge with Sadio Mane. Sandro had recovered from a knee problem suffered in training this week in order to play at St Mary's Stadium but lasted just 11 minutes before being replaced by Karl Henry.
Southampton posed the biggest threat in the first half and Tadic was unfortunate not to open the scoring in the 19th minute, his low shot deflected against a post by QPR defender Steven Caulker. Pelle could have broken the deadlock a minute later as he failed to convert after being played through by Barclays Premier League debutant Mane. Mane was involved again as Morgan Schneiderlin went close to opening the scoring, the Frenchman shooting narrowly wide from close range.
The pattern of the game remained unchanged in the second half and Southampton finally found a breakthrough in the 54th minute when Green allowed Bertrand's effort to sneak under his body after the left-back had been put through on goal with a clever back-heel pass. Green prevented Southampton doubling their lead when he turned a Tadic shot over the crossbar from point-blank range.
QPR found an equaliser after 66 minutes, Austin brilliantly controlling a cross from Eduardo Vargas before turning and firing a volley beyond Fraser Forster.
Yet parity lasted just two minutes for QPR as Pelle bettered Austin's effort. The Italian striker flicked a seemingly innocuous ball up into the air and unleashed an overhead kick that flew into the top corner. Southampton almost added a third goal in the 70th minute when Steven Davis curled an effort against the frame of the goal.
Substitute Shane Long was thwarted by Green in an effort to make the game safe and Southampton were almost punished for not doing so by Niko Kranjcar, who nearly replicated his heroics from last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Stoke City, his free-kick smashing the woodwork as the hosts clung on for all three points.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman: "It was very tough. We expected that. We told the boys that after last Tuesday [Capital One Cup win over Arsenal] that it'd be more difficult. All the credit to QPR about the second half. We know we have offensive qualities but in a difficult second half, to keep the spirit and the belief to win the game, it was a good compliment to the boys. The most important is that we believe in our way of playing and the second half was a fantastic second half from both sides."
QPR manager Harry Redknapp: "We came back strongly after their goal and we had every opportunity at that stage of the game but their centre-forward produced a world-class goal. Niko Kranjcar hit a fantastic free-kick but it hit the woodwork and we couldn't get the break.
"We didn't give up today and it was a much better performance. Charlie [Austin] took his goal well today and that's encouraging. He's proven that he can score goals in the Premier League. Southampton are a good side but we stuck at it and we got a bit more belief in ourselves today and we've got to continue to believe."
|25 Oct 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|13 Dec 2014||v Burnley (A)|
|03 Dec 2014||v Arsenal (A)|
|18 Oct 2014||v Sunderland (H)|
|08 Dec 2014||v Man Utd (H)|
|05 Oct 2014||v Spurs (A)|