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Mauricio Pochettino's side dominated from the outset at St Mary's, with Fulham failing to muster a single shot in a first-half in which headers from Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez put the hosts deservedly ahead.
Only Maarten Stekelenburg's fine form, the goal frame and bad luck prevented Saints racking up an even greater margin of victory, as they secured a sixth clean sheet of the campaign - a far cry from the 26 goals they had conceded at the same stage of last season.
Adam Lallana scored the equaliser at Old Trafford and was almost involved in another goal after five minutes on the south coast.
The Saints captain dispossessed dawdling Philippe Senderos and went onto test Stekelenburg, whose parry would have been slotted home by Morgan Schneiderlin was it not for Fernando Amorebieta's clearance off the line.
Lambert fired a tame effort straight at Stekelenburg as Saints' fine start continued, before Senderos reacted quickly to stop the England international putting Rodriguez through on goal.
Another deep cross, this time from Lallana, found Lambert, whose looping header back across the goal was nodded home by Rodriguez.
It was one of 14 shots** **Southampton managed in a dominant first half, with play continuing in the same direction after the restart for which Aaron Hughes replaced Riether.
First-half headers from Jay Rodriguez and Rickie Lambert proved the difference at St Mary's where Fulham were fortunate to escape on the end of just a 2-0 defeat.
The three points propelled Saints to third in the Barclays Premier League and made this a better start than they managed when finishing runners-up in 1983/84.
When asked if a similar finish was possible, Pochettino said "I don't know" in English and with a smile but believes there are no barriers stopping his side.
"I want to congratulate my players because they put in an extraordinary performance today," the former Argentina defender said.
While unlikely to match the second-place finish of 19 years ago, there is growing talk that European qualification is a possibility.
Saints boasted 67 per cent of possession in this evening's clash and completed 549 passes in contrast to Fulham's 234 - not that Pochettino is bothered.