Southampton's dream start to the season shows no sign of letting up, beating
Hull with a display that will have left watching England manager Roy Hodgson
Earlier this week the Three Lions boss called up Saints trio Jay Rodriguez,
Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana for the upcoming friendlies with Chile and
Hodgson took the opportunity to heap praise on Mauricio Pochettino's side for
their fine start to the campaign, which he saw continue with a 4-1 defeat of
Hull at St Mary's.
The victory was Saints' fourth top-flight win in succession and their best ever
start to a top- flight season, trumping the 1983-84 campaign when they finished
Pochettino, winner of October's manager of the month, named six English players
in the starting line-up on the south coast, although it was impressive French
midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin that headed home the opener.
Lambert provided the assist and was soon on the scoresheet himself, continuing
his 100 per cent record from the spot for Saints by rifling past Steve Harper.
Lallana earned the penalty and then went on to score one of the best solo goals
seen at St Mary's, jinking his way through the City defence and striking low
past the City goalkeeper.
Steve Bruce's side improved after the break and pulled one back through Yannick
Sagbo, but Saints held firm and grabbed another through substitute Steven Davis
to extend their unbeaten league run to seven matches.
In truth, City were lucky not to be further behind at half-time after a
miserable first half which began with a Lallana cross that just evaded Lambert.
Tom Huddlestone did well to stop a Rodriguez cutback finding James Ward-Prowse
soon after, before Southampton found the opener in the 16th minute.
Nathaniel Clyne, a player Hodgson revealed is close to a call-up, sent in an
excellent cross to the back post, where Lambert knocked back under pressure for
Schneiderlin to head home.
The French midfielder's first goal of the season was no less than the hosts
deserved, although Hull attempted to draw level immediately through
Huddlestone's blocked free-kick and a Paul McShane header.
It was a rare voyage forward for the Tigers, whose 5-4-1 formation meant they
were struggling to support frontman Sagbo.
Saints were being allowed to boss the play and it was no surprise when City
went further behind on the half-hour mark.
Meeting a Lambert through ball, Lallana was sliced down by onrushing Harper in
the penalty box and Lambert smashed home the spot-kick.
Saints fans interchanged the names of Lambert, Rodriguez and Lallana as they
sung "he's off to Brazil" - chants that grew for the latter after a stupendous
Picking up the ball midway through the opponent's half, Lallana drifted to the
left, rode the challenge of Curtis Davies and ghosted past Ahmed Elmohamady,
before slotting home right-footed past Harper from an acute angle.
It was an exquisite goal and one City should have done better to stop. Maynor
Figueroa attempted to pull one back in first half stoppage time, only to see his
header cleared off the line.
Robert Koren replaced Elmohamady as Steve Bruce went to four at the back for a
second half in which they were much improved.
Perhaps overconfident, Saints looked to let their foot off the gas and Victor
Wanyama was caught out 10 minutes after the restart.
Collecting a simple Artur Boruc pass, the Kenyan was dispossessed and Sagbo
struck home from the edge of the box - the first goal conceded by Saints on home
turf since August 24.
Boruc denied Huddlestone a quick-fire second as the hardy 1,434 travelling fans
sensed an improbable comeback, before Southampton returned to the attack.
Lallana played a great one-two with Lambert, with his strike forcing Harper into
a fine save.
David Meyler cleared a Schneiderlin effort off the line from the resulting
corner, with substitute Dani Osvaldo getting a header on goal as the match
entered the closing stages.
Substitute Davis added extra gloss to the win with two minutes remaining,
thrashing home another after collecting yet another impressive Clyne cross.