Tav is talk of the town
- Darren England
Marcus Tavernier bagged the only goal as AFC Bournemouth took a giant step towards securing their Premier League status with victory over neighbours Southampton.
Tavernier’s goal, which came five minutes into the second half at St Mary’s Stadium, deservedly settled an entertaining contest in favour of the visitors.
Gary O’Neil’s team created a hatful of chances, although they survived a late scare when a Che Adams effort was ruled out for offside following a VAR check.
The win saw the Cherries claim a hat-trick of away victories in the Premier League for the first time in their history and saw them pull seven points clear of the relegation zone.
It also came eight years to the day since the club first won promotion to the top flight, beating Bolton 3-0 on an emotional night at Vitality Stadium.
Matías Viña and Marcos Senesi were drafted into the Cherries starting line-up as head coach Gary O’Neil made two changes following the defeat by West Ham.
Viña replaced Adam Smith, who was named among the Cherries substitutes, while Senesi came in for Jack Stephens, who was ineligible to face his parent club.
Theo Walcott drew a save from Neto in the early stages, the Cherries goalkeeper diving to his left to deny the frontman after Mohamed Elyounoussi’s pass had picked him out.
Tavernier, released by Ryan Christie’s delightful ball from inside his own half, ended a darting run by seeing his resultant shot blocked.
Neto smothered Adam Armstrong’s close-range effort at his near post before the Cherries were denied when Viña’s strike was ruled out for an earlier offside.
Dominic Solanke strayed inches ahead of the Saints defence as he fastened on to Joe Rothwell’s through ball and, after his shot had been saved, Viña drilled home the loose ball but the effort was chalked off.
Walcott’s header flicked off Senesi and clipped the crossbar before Phil Billing lifted his shot over the top after Solanke had teed him up.
Solanke exchanged passes with Christie before letting fly with a venomous drive, his effort narrowly clearing the crossbar.
Southampton were forced into a change when defender Romain Perraud went off injured and was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the 36th minute.
The hosts survived a penalty appeal following a VAR check for handball against Maitland-Niles on the stroke of half-time.
At the start of the second half, Neto raced off his line to beat Armstrong to Senesi’s back-pass before the Cherries drew first blood five minutes after the interval.
Tavernier, fed by Solanke, hared down the right flank before turning inside, skipping past two defenders and finding the bottom corner with a shot which took a slight deflection.
As the Cherries went in search of a quick second, Christie’s low shot was blocked before Billing’s effort cannoned off a defender and went for a corner.
Rothwell’s 20-yarder was saved comfortably by Saints goalkeeper Alex McCarthy before Illia Zabarnyi replaced Senesi midway through the second half.
The Cherries were forced into a second substitution after Tavernier pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Smith replacing him 12 minutes from time.
Saints thought they had equalised through substitute Che Adams two minutes from time but his strike was chalked off due to a hairline offside decision.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Caleta-Car, Ward-Prowse (Lyanco, h/t), A Armstrong (Sulemana, 76), Perraud (Maitland-Niles, 36), Elyounoussi (S Armstrong, 61), Alcaraz, Walcott (Adams, 61), Bednarek, Lavia.
Unused subs: Aribo, Mara, Djenepo, Bazunu (g/k).
AFC Bournemouth: Neto, Viña, Senesi (Zabarnyi, 67), Mepham, Kelly, Rothwell, Lerma, Tavernier (Smith, 78), Christie, Solanke (Moore, 90), Billing (Ouattara, 90).
Unused subs: Cook, Semenyo, Anthony, Brooks, Travers (g/k).
Booked: Senesi, Lerma, Viña.
Referee: Darren England.