Belfast Telegraph

Anything other than a win and we were dead and buried, says Saints boss Hughes

Saints ended their long wait for a home win against Bournemouth.

Mark Hughes admits Southampton would have been doomed to Premier League relegation had they failed to beat south coast rivals Bournemouth.

Struggling Saints had not won a top-flight game at St Mary’s since November, but Dusan Tadic’s superb double secured a 2-1 success to end that miserable run.

Saturday’s victory, which was greeted by a huge roar from the home support, was the club’s first in nine league games and breathed fresh life into their battle to beat the drop.

Relieved manager Hughes, who picked up a solitary point from his opening four league matches after being appointed last month, said the three points were crucial.

“I think everybody understood the significance of the result for us, vitally important that we got maximum points today,” said Hughes.

“A draw today, in my view, wouldn’t have been enough to allow us to still be within a chance of staying in this league.

“It’s been a challenge for everybody to get back to winning ways, it’s been a long time, too long given the quality we have.

“You’ve just got to find a way and that’s what the guys were able to do today.

“It was a bit of a roller-coaster for everyone connected with Southampton given the last five, 10 minutes, but we stuck at it, got blocks, headed things away, had two fantastic saves from Alex McCarthy.

“The key was to get the three points, but it’s just one part of what we need to do.”

Match-winner Tadic was only a substitute for last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea, but he justified his selection against the Cherries with two composed finishes.

Hughes was delighted to see the Serbia international reap the rewards of his hard work.

“Since I’ve come here, I’ve been really impressed with the quality of his work, his demeanour, his personality around the group, he’s first class,” said Hughes.

“I’m pleased he’s starting to have this impact for us because he deserved that.

“(A) huge result and he’s played a big part.”

Bournemouth, whose long wait for a win at Southampton stretched to 14 games, threatened to spoil the home side’s day when Josh King levelled in first-half stoppage time.

The Cherries must, though, wait another week to make their top-flight status mathematically certain and boss Eddie Howe felt his side were below par.

“I think it’s difficult to say what we deserved. I think overall (I’m) disappointed with the performance,” said Howe.

“For a footballing team, I thought we gave the ball away cheaply today.

“And I think whenever you do that, home or away, and you create a lot of transitions in the game, it’s difficult to get the control you want and I certainly felt the game was there for us to exert our influence on more.

“We were wasteful with the ball and I think ultimately that was our biggest downfall.

“The spirit is there and the will to do well is there, but for whatever reason we complicated the game, made too many bad decisions individually which hurt us collectively.

“And that was probably epitomised best by the goals we conceded because I think we were masters of our own downfall in that respect.”

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