Southampton deepened Norwich’s relegation troubles as goals from Che Adams and Oriol Romeu secured Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side a 2-0 victory at St Mary’s.
Southampton dominated the opening 45 minutes, but it wasn’t until the 34th minute that they really tested Norwich goalkeeper Angus Gunn. He somehow kept out Mohamed Elyounoussi’s volley from close range before Adams plated a free header wide from James Ward-Prowse’s corner just moments later.
The deadlock was eventually broken two minutes later. Gunn initially diverted Tino Livramento’s dangerous cross away from goal, but the ball rebounded to Adams at the far post and the Scotland international scooped the ball over the goalkeeper and over the goal line.
It had been a half to forget for Norwich and it could have got even worse in stoppage time at the end of the first half, but Elyounoussi struck wide of the far post after being picked out by Ward-Prowse.
Saints almost doubled their advantage immediately after the restart when Jan Bednarek flicked on Ward-Prowse’s corner, but Brandon Williams reacted quickest, heading the ball away before Adams could head goalwards.
The hosts continued to dominate but they could not grab a second goal as Gunn made saves to deny Stuart Armstrong, Ward-Prowse and Kyle Walker-Peters to keep the visitors into the game.
The scoreline was the only thing keeping Norwich interested, but they did eventually start to test the Southampton defence and Grant Hanley should have done better when heading sub Pierre Lees-Melou’s cross wide.
However, the game was made safe late on when Romeu powered a strike past Gunn from the edge of the penalty area to seal a deserved three points for Hasenhuttl’s side.
Victory sees Southampton stretch their unbeaten run at St Mary’s in the Premier League to 10 games as they move up to ninth in the table. Meanwhile, time is starting to run out on Norwich’s hopes of avoiding relegation. Dean Smith’s side, who suffered a 17th league defeat of the season, stay bottom of the table and five points from safety having played at least one game more than the sides around the sides above them.
📊 Longest current home unbeaten runs in PL
* longest home unbeaten run in PL since 12 games in 04-05 pic.twitter.com/8Fi6xFw5tE
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) February 25, 2022
‘Saints will be looking up the table’
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“The 2-0 scoreline doesn’t do Southampton justice. They are in a rich vein of form at this moment in time and they should enjoy it.
“They’ll be thinking they can have a really big end to the season. They are just in the top half now, four points behind Tottenham. Southampton will be looking up and not behind them.”
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:
“Southampton are achieving their absolute maximum as a club, as a team and as a manager. They are really well coached, and they proved again they are a good side.
“They will fall short against some of the big teams, but they are doing everything they can. They are a good group of players.”
Norwich second best and running out of time
Analysis from Sky Sports’ Dan Long:
Barring a few brief weeks of respite, Norwich have suffered a severe case of deja vu on their return to the Premier League. There is never just a single defeat; only several in succession and, this term, they have exited the relegation zone just once.
Coming into the trip to Southampton for Friday Night Football off the back of heavy defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, it was immediately clear that there was a gulf in class at St Mary’s, and with so many bodies back to defend when they were put under pressure, Dean Smith’s men held their hosts at bay for long periods, which was key if they wanted to try and salvage some much-needed points for the relegation scrap they find themselves at the very centre of.
But they showed Southampton too much respect at times throughout the game and were second best in so many departments, not least in attack, where frontman Teemu Pukki touched the ball just four times in the first half. They seldom looked like adding to their miserable tally of seven goals scored away from home in 2021/22.
By the time the second half began, they were already a goal down, after Che Adams had hooked the ball over the line from point-blank range, and it could quite easily have been more than two had Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have been more clinical and not fired so many of their 27 attempts straight at ex-Saints goalkeeper Angus Gunn.
With 26 games played and just 17 points to their name so far, it is no surprise the Canaries are rooted to the bottom of the table and five from safety. And as many of the teams around them have multiple games in hand, Norwich have arrived at the point where every single Premier League game needs to be treated as though it is a cup final.
Opta stats: Saints’ rich vein of form continues…
Only Liverpool (6) and Wolves (5) have won more Premier League games in 2022 than Southampton (4). Across England’s top-four tiers this season, Liverpool (0) are the only side with fewer home league defeats than Southampton (1, level with Chelsea and West Brom), with Saints now unbeaten in 10 in a row on home soil (W5 D5). Only once before have Norwich picked up fewer points after 26 games of a top-flight season than the 17 they have accrued in this campaign, via a haul of 16 at this stage in 1973-74 (3 pts for a win), when they were ultimately relegated Norwich have a goal difference of -40 after 26 games this season (15 for, 55 against); on only seven previous occasions in English top-flight history has a team posted a worse goal differential after 26 games (most recently Derby with -42 in 2007-08).
Man of the match – Oriol Romeu
Sky Sports‘ Jamie Carragher: “Before the goal went in, I was debating who the man of the match was between Oriol Romeu and Stuart Armstrong.
“The goal just sealed the deal for Armstrong, who was excellent, but Romeu really is a class act.
“I love watching him play. He brings a calmness and composure, and you could see that in the strike as well. He connected with the ball so sweetly.”
Sky Sports‘ Gary Neville: “I thought Romeu was the best player on the pitch.”
Southampton midfielder Oriol Romeu scored his first goal in his last 41 Premier League appearances since netting against West Brom in October 2020.
Southampton host West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday at 7.30pm before returning to Premier League action next Saturday at Aston Villa; kick-off 3pm.
Norwich visit Liverpool in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday at 8.15pm before hosting Brentford next Saturday in the Premier League at 3pm.