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Match Reports

Southampton v Norwich City

30 August 2015


ALEX Neil's unbeaten away record as Norwich City manager came to an end with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton.

Steven Whittaker's first half dismissal after two quick yellow cards changed the course of the match, with Graziano Pelle putting the home side ahead against the ten-man Canaries on the cusp of half-time.

Dusan Tadic quickfire double ended the contest midway through the second period as Neil's team suffered their second defeat of the Barclays Premier League season.

Cameron Jerome missed the visitors' best chance prior to Whittaker's red card, but they will have been disappointed with the ease with which Southampton took the points in the televised encounter at St Mary's, even with respect to their numerical advantage.

The players will have to wait two weeks for a chance to make amends as the domestic season is halted for international fixtures, with City next in action against Bournemouth on September 12.

They reverted back to the team that drew 1-1 with Stoke City in their last Premier League outing, with eight regulars returning to the fold after sitting out the midweek Capital One Cup victory at Rotherham.

With Lewis Grabban missing through suspension, Ricky van Wolfswinkel - who scored against the Millers - took his place among the substitutes.

Southampton strengthened their starting eleven after Thursday's Europa League defeat to FC Midtjylland, with dangermen Tadic and Sadio Mane returning to the fray.

James Ward-Prowse was in midfield for Ronald Koeman's team, and in the second minute he forced an excellent John Ruddy save from a free-kick 30 yards out.

It marked a positive start from the hosts but City soon settled, even though it was Saints who had the next opportunity through Mane on 13 minutes when he cut in off the right flank; Ruddy was equal to his shot.

Cameron Jerome should have bagged his first goal of the season on 20 minutes - Graham Dorrans hooked Robbie Brady's cross into the danger area, but the Canaries' frontman flicked his free header wide of Maarten Stekelenburg's goal.

Nathan Redmond then saw a deflected effort kept out by the Saints goalkeeper as the visitors' threat increased before Pelle nodded wide from Tadic's cross under pressure from Sebastien Bassong.

Just after the half hour mark the dynamic of the match changed with Whittaker's dismissal - the full-back picked up a second yellow card for holding back Tadic, just moments after receiving his initial booking for tussling with Matt Targett off the ball.

Neil responded by immediately sacrificing Wes Hoolahan for Andre Wisdom, lining his team up with two banks of four and Jerome spearheading its attack.

Southampton soon used the man advantage to take hold of possession, and in the first of two stoppage-time minutes at the end of the half they edged ahead.

Jonny Howson lost possession on the left touchline, with Mane advancing into the area before picking out Pelle with a deft pass, and the Italian striker provided the finish to put the home team firmly in control.

HALF-TIME: Southampton 1-0 Norwich City

Koeman brought on Jay Rodriguez at the break to replace Steven Davis, and the England international set up a header for Pelle three minutes into the half, but the goalscorer's skyward header was easy for Ruddy to fetch.

Ruddy set up more work for himself on 56 minutes when his pass landed between Bassong and Robbie Brady, but the Canaries' stopper kept out Mane's firm effort from 12 yards, and he was again on hand moments later to deny Rodriguez himself.

Pelle whistled a drive wide from 20 yards as Saints continued to press, and on 64 minutes they got the second goal that just about put the contest beyond City's reach.

Mane was allowed too much time and space on the right, and his square ball found Tadic free at the back-post, who was able to lift the ball into the roof of the net with ease.

City's deficit increased from two to three just three minutes later when Tadic was on target again - Ruddy was unfortunate to see his excellent save from Pelle's header drop kindly at the feet of the Serbian, who had the simplest of finishes.

It turned into a damage limitation exercise for Neil's men, and the rest of the match played out at a serene tempo as Southampton clinched their first league win of the campaign - and Neil suffered the unique disappointment of an away defeat.

FULL-TIME: Southampton 3-0 Norwich City

GOALS: Saints: Graziano Pelle (45), Dusan Tadic (64, 67)

SOUTHAMPTON: Stekelenburg, Cédric (Martina 73), Fonte (c), Yoshida, Targett, Romeu, S Davis (Rodriguez 45), Ward-Prowse, Tadić, Mané (Juanmi 81), Pellè. Subs not used: K Davis (GK), Long, Reed, Caulker.

NORWICH CITY: Ruddy; Whittaker, Martin (c), Bassong, Brady; Redmond, Tettey, Dorrans (Johnson 70), Howson; Hoolahan (Wisdom 32); Jerome (Hooper 89). Subs not used: Rudd (GK), R Bennett, O'Neil, van Wolfswinkel.

REFEREE: Jonathan Moss

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