Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton: Saints claim away win to keep European hopes alive

Southampton beat already relegated Aston Villa to keep in contention with their slowly slipping away hopes of European football.

Aston Villa 2-4 Southampton: Saints claim away win to keep European hopes alive
Shane with his ninth goal of the season | photo source: BBC Sport
Aston Villa
2 4
Aston Villa : Guzan (GK), Hutton, Richards (c) (Toner 46), Lescott, Cissokho, Bacuna, Gana-Gueye, Westwood, Sanchez (Grealish 68), Sinclair, Ayew (Gestede 59).
Southampton: Forster (GK), Cédric, Fonte (c), van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama (Clasie 46),Romeu, Davis,Tadić, Long, Rodriguez (Mané 70).
SCORE: 0-1, 15", Long. 0-2, 39", Tadic. 1-2, 45 +1", Westwood. 1-3, 71", Tadic. 2-3, 85", Westwood, 2-4, 90+4, Mane
REFEREE: Mike Jones

Southampton cruised past already-relegated Aston Villa to remain in contention for European football next season, winning 4-2 at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Saints remain in eighth but closed the gap to two points on sixth-placed currently occupied by West Ham, although they have played a game more.

It wasn’t an easy run for Villa as they faced a sombre atmosphere, with fans booing, littering the pitch with paper plans and staging a protest in the 74th minute.

With Southampton recent string of improved quality football on the pitch, it didn’t take they long to create chances in the opening minutes of the game.

Jay Rodriguez made a decent challenge with Micah Richards to flick the ball on for Shane Long, who beat Joleon Lescott, but agonisingly fired his effort to rattle the crossbar.Joleon Lescott, but agonisingly fired his effort to rattle the crossbar.

Just before the 15th-minute mark, Long would not be denied again, he was mistakenly left unmarked in the six-yard box to head home the first goal from Ryan Bertand’s cross.

Southampton made light work of Villa’s defence

Aston Villa, had their chances when their belief lifted when a cross from Alan Hutton found Leandro Bacuna on the penalty spot, but the winger's header flicked just wide of Fraser Forster’s goal.

Saint was proving to be a constant threat going forward and was left infuriated with 30 minutes gone, as the post denied defenders Virgil van Dijk attempt.

Southampton would not be denied their second goal, just five minutes before the half-time break. After Long had been stopped in his run by Brad Guzan, the striker recovered the ball back and passed to Tadic, who stroked the ball home on his first touch.

Looked to be in complete control of the game at the break, but lost sight has Villa, responded just on half-time as Jordan Aynew’s cross picked out Ashley Westwood, and he found the far corner to make it 2-1.

Long and Fonte celebrate one of Saints' goals. (Picture: Getty)
Long and Fonte celebrate one of Saints' goals. (Picture: Getty)

With van Dijks persistence’s in the second half allowed Cedric the precious time to cross and to pick out Rodriquez, but experienced Lescott blocked the forward’s volley.

Guzan then produced two superb stops, firstly denying Long, and then push away Davis’s free-kick that seemed to find a path to the top corner.

Inevitably the third goal finally arrived with 20 minutes remaining. Long was once again the supplier, who set up Tadic, who tapped the ball beyond Guzan for his eighth goal of the season and his second for this game.

Villa seemed to find their feet but not for long

Saints failed to clear their lines from a corner set piece, with Westwood’s composed finish from the edge of the box, certainly set up a nervous final five minutes as he made it 3-2.

Soon after Long had another chance to wrap up the game deep in extra time, but it was Sadio Mane super sub from the bench made sure Saints got the points as he headed home a cross from Cedric to ensure the teams seventh win away this season.