Dusan Tadic's second half penalty consigned Sunderland to yet another defeat in the Premier League this season, as Southampton beat them 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Pantilimon on form to prevent Saints from taking early lead
It took some excellent goalkeeping from Costel Pantilimon to keep Southampton out, as the visitors had by far the best two chances of the first half.
Tadic, playing on the left wing, had a role to play with each effort, almost scoring the first. Angling a ball into Pelle, the Serbian ran across the defence, taking an excellent backheel from the Italian in his stride, only for Pantilimon to close him down and block his goalbound shot.
Tadic turned provider for the next effort, crossing for in-form Saido Mane, who wriggled past two defenders to creat room for a shot. Bending the ball towards the top left hand corner, it looked like a sure goal, only for Pantilimon to scramble across his goal and push it out. These saves come at a crucial time for the big goalkeeper, with speculation over a loan recall for promising young 'keeper Jordan Pickford having been rife this week.
Sunderland fail to make headway going forward
Sunderland had few chances in the first half, with some impressive Southampton defending preventing them from creating much. It looked as if Steven Fletcher was about to break through and get a shot on goal with a few minutes to go, only for Virgil van Dijk to make a crucial interception.
Duncan Watmore was trying desperately to turn the game around, and looked like he might as a winding run saw him break into the Southampton area during stoppage time, only for Jose Fonte to halt him with a perfectly timed challenge.
The match continued in a similar vain as it entered the second 45, with the visitors making most of the headway. James Ward Prowse's set-pieces were proving as deadly as usual, and it took an excellent back post clearance from DeAndre Yedlin to prevent one of them from flying in.
Tadic puts visitors ahead with penalty
Another goalmouth clearance followed minutes later, as Steven Davis' effort was knocked away by Sebastian Coates, keeping the score at 0-0. Sunderland's resistance was eventually broken though, as they gave away a penalty with just over 20 minutes left on the clock.
Yann M'Vila was the man at fault, making an uncharacteristic challenge on the marauding Ryan Bertrand, which gave referee Mike Jones no choice other than to point to the spot. Tadic confidently stepped up to the plate, tucking his penalty away into the bottom corner.
Black Cats fail to produce late comeback
That goal did seem to spring the home side into action, and they hit the woodwork minutes later. Adam Johnson's free kick beat goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, but bounced back off the bar.
If anything, Sunderland hitting the bar so quickly saw their attempts at getting back into the game peak, as Southampton took the decision to shut up shop and try to keep the hosts out. One penalty appeal was made in the final few minutes, as the ball struck Mayo Yoshida's hand in the area, but Jones deemed his arms to be in a natural position, and waved play on.
Little happened after that, as Sunderland failed to find an equaliser, and remained in the relegation zone with a 1-0 defeat, on a day where rivals Newcastle United claimed a priceless away victory against Bournemouth.