AFC Bournemouth slumped to a third successive defeat in the Premier League as they allowed rival’s Southampton to claim a crucial three points in their quest for survival at St. Mary’s.
The Cherries, whose search for a first top-flight win at Saints ground continues, were poor from start to finish, emphasised by Eddie Howe’s post-match comments stating that his side were the masters of their own downfall.
Man of the match Dusan Tadic stepped up to the plate for the home side, opening the scoring after a quick counter attack led by the excellent Mario Lemina.
Joshua King gave the visitors and undeserved equaliser on the stroke of half time, but Howe’s men failed to build from there.
Another defensive mistake caught them out and Tadic pounced to bag his second and seal a precious win.
Hosts dominate early on
The opening quarter of an hour was uneventful, but it was Southampton who were taking the game to the Cherries and had the first chances.
As Saints crowded the penalty area it took two superb sliding blocks from Steve Cook and Simon Francis to prevent what appeared to be goal bound strikes.
The first goal always felt as if it would be crucial in this match and it was Tadic who struck for the home side on the 25-minute mark.
Howe’s men got caught out on the counter attack following their own corner, only leaving Charlie Daniels in their own half to cover.
The full back was unable to stop the charging run from Lemina, who was then able to find the Saints number 10, slotting home past Asmir Begovic with a calm finish.
With Southampton growing in confidence, Begovic continued to be tested, making great saves to deny Charlie Austin and Lemina twice.
Penalty appeal and Cherries surprise equaliser
Five minutes before the break the hosts were denied what appeared to be a very valid penalty claim.
Austin picked up the ball just a few yards out from goal and looked to take the ball round Begovic, only to be shoved and blocked off of the ball by the Cherries goalkeeper.
This only became apparent after viewing several replays, which is likely to be the case as to why referee Anthony Taylor waved away what were muted appeals from the home side.
Into stoppage time at the end of the first half and having created very few chances, AFC Bournemouth were level thanks to King’s clever intervention.
With many fans making their way to concourse, the ball was whipped in from the corner and Steve Cook flicked his header across goal.
With the defender’s effort going wide, King stormed in at the back post to apply the finish from close range to level the scores at 1-1.
Saints march on in the second half
In the second half it did not take long for Southampton to regain the lead, however, it came from yet another Cherries defensive mistake.
What should have been a simple chested pass from Steve Cook went array and resulted in a loss of possession in their own half.
The Saints players swarmed forward spurred on by the home supporters and it was Tadic again at the end of the move to apply a wonderful finish with the outside of his boot into the bottom corner.
Mark Hughes’ side were desperate to put the game to bed and were only denied a third goal by an outstanding save from Begovic.
The Bosnian looked set to make a routine stop from Austin’s low central strike, only for substitute Shane Long to get ahead of his man to get a touch on the ball.
The Cherries goalkeeper reacted brilliantly to adjust his feet while off balance to stick out his left leg and keep his team in the game.
Howe’s side rallied towards the end of the game, looking to grab yet another late goal in their ‘comeback kings season’, but this was to no avail thanks to a few exceptional saves from Alex McCarthy.
St. Mary’s Stadium exploded into the life following the full-time whistle as Southampton took a significant step towards Premier League survival, although it still remains out of their hands.
It was certainly not the result that AFC Bournemouth wanted, and they will need to respond next week in their final home game against Swansea City if they are not to end this season with a whimper.