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    Southampton 2-0 Watford: Saints win again at last

    By Alex Easley
    Shane Long (right) celebrates Southampton's opener against Watford.
    Southampton recorded just their second win in 11 games with a 2-0 defeat of Watford at the St. Mary’s stadium in the Premier League on Wednesday night.

    The hosts dominated proceedings throughout, and capitalised on a bright start when Shane Long scored the first goal with a flicked header after 17 minutes.

    Sadio Mane then squandered a wonderful opportunity to double the lead 10 minutes before the break, but it was substitute Dusan Tadic who made sure of all three points with a low finish on 73 minutes.

    Watford were made to wait until the 84th minute just to register a shot on target as they suffered defeat for a third consecutive game in the league.

    Quique Sanchez Flores had made four changes from their FA Cup win over Newcastle last weekend, while Southampton welcomed back Fraser Forster for a first start in nine months.

    The biggest alteration made by Ronald Koeman though, was playing Ryan Bertrand at centre halve in a 3-5-2 formation to combat Watford’s attack.

    It was designed to keep a spare man for in-form duo Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo, and also freed up Matt Targett, who was a thorn in the visitor’s side.
    Ronald Koeman (right) changed to a 3-5-2 formation to deal with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
    Targett’s swinging delivery from the left side led to Southampton’s opener as Long stole a march on Miguel Britos and glanced a neat header into the far corner to claim his fifth league goal of the season.

    The goal came after Watford’s best spell of the half, as Allan Nyom twice overlapped Almen Abdi to provide crosses for Ighalo and Deeeny.

    But Nyom’s frequent forays into the Saints half allowed Targett and Mane to use the space, and the latter went close to doubling the home side’s advantage only for goalkeeper Gomes to tip his effort wide.

    Targett then hassled Nyom into a mistake seven minutes after Long’s header, but the goal scorer could not find a finish before Mane wasted a golden chance to make it two.

    The Hornets were sloppy throughout the first 45 minutes and gifted possession to Mane after a misjudged square pass from Jose Manuel Jurado, but the Saints forward clipped the post with his shot.

    Forster was virtually a bystander as Ighalo saw Watford’s one opportunity cleared for a corner, after Bertrand deflected the Nigerian’s goal-bound effort wide.

    Three minutes after the break Gomes and Mane collided as the latter looked to head the ball home, before Mane looked for Long with a back-heel when well positioned to shoot himself.

    Ikechi Anya’s introduction led to a marginal improvement from the visitors, and the substitute nearly found Ighalo with a driven cross with just under 30 minutes to go.

    Southampton did have the ball in the net shortly after, but Steven Davis was adjudged offside following a fine through pass from Oriol Romeu.

    And the Saints still had time to waste two more good chances before Tadic put the game beyond Watford with just over 15 minutes remaining.

    Mane and Long failed to convert Virgil van Dijk's low centre before Mane whipped a low shot past Gomes' near post, but the home side eventually made their pressure pay.

    Tadic held off two Watford challenges to slot past Gomes just two minutes after coming on, and Southampton comfortably saw out the final stages.

    Having lost eight of their previous 10 before Wednesday's game, the Saints will head into Saturday's fixture at home to West Brom with renewed confidence, while for Watford, they must look to bounce back on their travels at Swansea on Monday night.

    TEAMS

    Southampton: Forster, Cedric, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand, Targett, Romeu , S. Davis, Clasie, Mane, Long

    Subs used: Pelle, Tadic, Yoshida

    Watford: Gomes, Nyom, Britos, Prodl, Holebas, Capoue, Watson, Abdi, Deeney, Jurado, Ighalo

    Subs used: Anya, Ibarbo, Cathcart

    MAN OF THE MATCH: Shane Long
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    Item Reviewed: Southampton 2-0 Watford: Saints win again at last Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Alex Easley
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