Cherries lose out to Saints
- Anthony Taylor
AFC Bournemouth slipped to a 2-1 defeat at St Mary's as they missed the chance to confirm their Premier League survival at the home of their south-coast rivals.
After a bright start from the visitors, the home side broke at pace from a corner with Dusan Tadic able to finish off a flowing move to open the scoring, though Joshua King levelled for the Cherries right on half time as he converted following a corner.
Tadic netted again at the start of the second period, finishing after a strong run, and while the Cherries had late pressure they were unable to strike level for a second time.
Lys Mousset was back into the starting 11 for the first time in five games, the French striker coming into a rejigged frontline and joining Joshua King just behind Callum Wilson.
The 3,400 travelling Cherries fans packing out the away end loudly welcomed the players onto the pitch, knowing a maiden win at St Mary's would rubber stamp Premier League survival.
Lewis Cook entered the referee's notebook in the early stages for a mistimed challenge, both sides bustling out of the blocks on a cloudy and chilly afternoon in Southampton.
The away side started on the front foot, but it took two monumental blocks - the first from Steve Cook, the second from Simon Francis - to keep dangerous Southampton shots away from goal 14 minutes in.
The Cherries soon settled again and were almost in when Charlie Daniels pushed forwards and played a ball in to Wilson but, with Mousset running in on goal to his right, the ball across couldn't be found.
A fine Mousset ball saw Ryan Fraser exploding into space down the right flank, the Scot beat his man for pace, but his centre also beat his arriving team-mates.
From the resulting corner, Southampton broke to take the lead.
Maya Yoshida cleared the set piece and when Nathan Redmond beat Lewis Cook to the ball Mario Lemina was bursting clear with only one defender to stop three charging Saints. Lemina found Tadic and the Serbian finished clinically with a low finish across Asmir Begovic.
The Cherries 'keeper soon needed to save well from Charlie Austin at his near post, two minutes later Begovic then dived full-length to repel Lemina's 20-yard half volley.
At the other end Fraser volleyed in a powered shot that bounced a couple of yards wide, while home hearts were in mouths following a Cherries freekick. as the ball was half cleared Mousset struck goalwards, Nathan Ake controlling and turning but seeing is stabbed effort saved desperately by Alex McCarthy.
The away goal then came, King scoring from close range, right on the stroke of the break.
A swung-in corner was directed goalwards by Francis and King was there to profit, volleying into the roof of the net from barely a yard out to give the Cherries the perfect fillip ahead of the 15-minute interval.
Back for the second half and Lewis Cook tested McCarthy from range but on 54 minutes the home side were ahead again.
Steve Cook could only chest a long clearance into Tadic's path and the Southampton man strode forwards and finished cleanly from the edge of the area to restore the home advantage.
Eddie Howe brought Jermain Defoe and Jordon Ibe into the action for Wilson and Mousset as the Cherries chased a second leveller.
Begovic kept his side in the game with a superb save when substitute Shane Long redirected a shot close in and the 'keeper stretched out a leg to save.
The Cherries had another let off after giving the ball away in the penalty area, Francis thankfully recovering to stop Lemina from tapping into an empty net.
Defoe almost snuck in at the near post as the away side began to rally, instead winning a corner with 15 minutes left on the clock at St Mary's.
Defoe was then played in, only a fine tackle from last-man Wesley Hoedt stopping the front man's rapid goalward progress.
The Cherries were dominating possession as Southampton increasingly dropped back looking to maintain their shape and counter through Long, Bournemouth struggling to make headway with five minutes remaining, though substitute Andrew Surman did swirl a long-range effort a yard wide.
Into the final minute and Defoe was sent sprawling, nothing doing, while McCarthy needed to save well from Fraser's low drilled effort.
Five minutes of additional time were signalled by the fourth official, King's surge winning a freekick in a good shooting area. Francis shot after Daniels rolled it into his direction, but the powered effort was blocked behind for a corner.
Begovic came up to attack the set piece but Southampton managed to clear. Fraser again went close after his shot was deflected and well saved by the 'keeper.
The late pressure didn't result in a goal however, Southampton holding on for their win.