REPORT: Southampton 1-1 Aston Villa

By SFC Media time Sat 05 Dec Club

Southampton ended a run of three defeats in all competitions with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at St Mary’s.

The hosts controlled this contest but ended up salvaging a point instead of toasting all three. 

They fell behind just before half-time when Joleon Lescott popped up with a surprise goal from a corner at the end of an opening 45 minutes where the league’s bottom side had been outplayed.

Saints created chance after chance, until substitute Oriol Romeu grabbed a scrappy reply in a similar fashion to Villa’s strike, but couldn’t quite force a second.

Ronald Koeman made two changes to the team that started against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, with José Fonte and James Ward-Prowse each coming into the side, as Steven Caulker and Jordy Clasie made way to the bench.

Kelvin Davis also returned to the squad, with Maarten Stekelenburg continuing in goal.

The hosts were the stronger team from the start and had two good early chances inside the opening three minutes of play that should have drawn at least one goal.

Tadić was the first culprit when he shot over after Mané’s industry down the left created an opportunity inside the area for the Serbian.

A minute later, Tadić supplied an inch-perfect pass in towards Pellè, but the striker’s first time shot cleared the crossbar.

Victor Wanyama headed wide at the far post before Tadić and Mané switched flanks to good effect which saw the former move to the right, where he sent over a cross to the far post where Mané volleyed over.

Saints had two further chances in the 19th minute from a couple of corners in quick succession with Fonte seeing a goalbound poke towards the net cleared from the line by striker Rudy Gestede after keeper Brad Guzan had been beaten.

From the resulting flag kick, Mané dived in for a header which somehow went over from close range.

Just past the half hour, Mané turned provider to cross for Pellè who saw the delivery late, but got a close range header on target, which was easy for Guzan to gather.

Villa had only created half chances with Bacuna shooting wide and Gana seeing a long range effort saved by Stekelenburg, before they incredibly caught a break just before half-time.

The visitors won a corner on the left side off the boot of Virgil van Dijk who had come across to that side to thwart an attack. The following set-piece was swung in tamely by Jordan Veretout, but it bounced up to the far post where defender Joleon Lescott escaped the clutches of Fonte to gleefully tap home an unlikely strike that put Villa ahead going into the break.

Saints tried to pick up from where they left off with their performance in the first half, and made a similarly swift venture towards Villa’s goal, with Mané seeing an early shot deflected behind for a corner.

Villa resisted the early threats and elected to push on when they might have been forgiven for sitting back, given the importance of the points in their current plight.

Saints’ chances in the game up to that point were summed up by a shot from Steven Davis which was deflected over the bar having got himself into some space at the far post to meet Mané’s cross.

From the resulting corner, Van Dijk headed wide, while the hosts also lost Wanyama to injury midway through the half.

Second half substitute Juanmi created a hat-trick of good chances for himself, the latter of which drew a smart save from Guzan as the Spaniard turned Okore, before seeing a low strike palmed away.

Villa swiftly retreated as Saints continued to push forward, and just when the cause was looking lost, Koeman’s side pounced with a deserved equaliser.

In an almost carbon-copy of Villa’s goal, James Ward-Prowse’s corner from the left was met at the far post by substitute Oriol Romeu who turned home his first Premier League goal from two yards out.

Saints pressed ahead for a winner, but were frustrated by some time-wasting from their opponents, before a lengthy stoppage for Gana further slowed their progress

The introduction of Shane Long gave the hosts an extra dimension for the closing stages, with five minutes added on for Saints to try and find another way through.

Van Dijk headed over from a corner, while Long struck a low drive into the side netting as chances ran out for the hosts with the points eventually shared, though clearly, not for the want of trying.

Southampton: Maarten Stekelenburg; Cédric, José Fonte (c), Virgil van Dijk, Ryan Bertrand; Victor Wanyama (Oriol Romeu 63), James Ward-Prowse; Dušan Tadic (Juanmi 63), Steven Davis, Sadio Mané (Shane Long 82); Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis (GK), Jordy Clasie, Cuco Martina, Steven Caulker.

Booked: Ward-Prowse (30)

Goal: Romeu (73)

Aston Villa: Brad Guzan; Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Joleon Lescott (c), Leandro Bacuna (Kieran Richardson 77); Carlos Sánchez (Gabriel Agbonlahor 90), Idrissa Gana-Gueye, Jordan Veretout; Scott Sinclair, Jordan Ayew, Rudy Gestede (Ashley Westwood 75). Unused substitutes: Mark Bunn (GK), Tiago Ilori, Adama Traoré, Carles Gil.

Booked: Alan Hutton (70), Brad Guzan (80)

Goal: Lescott (44)

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Attendance: 29,645 (including 1,978 away)

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