Che Adams leads Southampton out of the bottom three and sinks Bournemouth

A few minutes after the final whistle, Ralph Hasenhüttl and his players folded their arms in front of the guest support to toast the much-needed win and the long overdue first goal of the season. Southampton were the last team in England’s top four leagues to clinch a .

Was it a defiant demonstration of unity? A symbol of togetherness despite the never-ending, overwhelming mood of crisis? Or the chance to celebrate just their second away win since February with the supporters, safe in the knowledge that his future visits to Bournemouth beaches will not be marred? “I’m here very often and enjoy this beautiful landscape,” said a smiling Hasenhüttl afterwards. “It’s always good when you come here knowing you haven’t lost.”

It’s amazing what three dots can do. Che Adams’ expertly executed ninth-minute header was enough to lift Southampton out of the relegation zone and inspire the belief that all may not be lost under Hasenhüttl, even if his side have been lurking in their own half for a long time. The stakes were always high for Hasenhüttl and the excitement never died down as the Southampton manager paced the technical section of the away game. Scott Parker was still in charge of Bournemouth when Southampton last celebrated victory and the relief was palpable at the final whistle, especially given Mohammed Salisu’s heroic release just before.

Sometime during the first half, Hasenhuttl removed his black baseball cap and slapped referee John Brooks. It was a snapshot that reflected the pressure that has mounted on Hasenhüttl in recent weeks – Southampton came into this game with a dismal record of 15 defeats in their last 22 games – and how he needed that result before moving to the top of the table on Sunday Arsenal receives. Hasenhüttl is the fourth longest-serving manager in the Premier League, but has staggered from stable to unstable for what feels like an eternity. For Bournemouth, the defeat marks their first bump in a while, Gary O’Neil’s first loss since then.

Southampton overhauled their squad with an influx of young players over the summer but Hasenhüttl named their oldest starting XI of the season. Croatian defender Duje Caleta-Car, 26, shone in his second start after replacing Armel Bella-Kotchap, who is out with a dislocated shoulder. “We know that we have to fight as a group after an intensive summer transfer window,” said Hasenhüttl. “We talk very often about the patience we have to have for them. It’s not always the case that you have that kind of patience in this business, especially when, like me, you work a bit late at the club. Sometimes patience is not always there. With all the pressure you have in the Premier League, it’s not easy to get through, but it’s the only way we can do it.”

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl celebrates with his goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl celebrates with his goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu. Photo: James Marsh/Shutterstock

It felt relevant that Adams pointed to his ear as he ceremoniously drove away and his header helped drown out the noise. Mohamed Elyounoussi, who missed a chance to end the game late on, twisted from the angle, charging down on the right before switching play to Romain Perraud, who sent in a cross from the left. Adams peeled off Bournemouth defender Marcos Senesi from the penalty spot and the Southampton striker sent a beautiful header into the corner. Hasenhüttl’s double punch in the direction of the guest support on one side of this stadium also felt clear. Substitute Southampton Moussa Djenepo also missed a chance to win but they did just enough to end Bournemouth’s flawless unbeaten run.

Marcus Tavernier might have been Bournemouth’s brightest spark but they struggled to really work Gavin Bazunu in the Southampton goal. Bournemouth’s biggest complaint centered on a penalty when Junior Stanislas’ cross caught Salisu’s right arm in the second half. “The ball hits Lloyd Kelly at Nottingham Forest from a similar distance, that’s a penalty,” said O’Neil. “The ball hits Jefferson Lerma in Newcastle, it’s a penalty. The ball hits Salisu, it’s not a penalty. Hopefully the officials can clarify what is and isn’t [a penalty] because I don’t see a big difference.”

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