Tadic at the double to boost Saints’ survival chances
Midfielder ends poor run at home.
Dusan Tadic scored twice as relegation-threatened Southampton boosted their chances of Premier League survival with a 2-1 victory over south coast rivals Bournemouth.
Struggling Saints had not won in the top flight at St Mary’s since November but the recalled Tadic changed that with a goal in either half to end an eight-game winless league run.
Bournemouth had briefly threatened to damage their near neighbours’ safety hopes when Josh King levelled in first-half added time.
Saints boss Mark Hughes was searching for his first league win at the fifth attempt following his appointment last month.
The Welshman accepted in the build-up to the game that it was a must-win fixture in the battle for to beat the drop and his response to the pressure was to recall creative duo Tadic and Nathan Redmond following last weekend’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.
Serbia international Tadic quickly justified his inclusion with 25 minutes played, coolly slotting past Asmir Begovic after being slipped in Mario Lemina following a devastating Southampton counter-attack from a poorly executed Bournemouth corner.
Saints’ home support have been starved of success and entertainment this season but the whole ground was lifted by the opener and Charlie Austin and Lemina each tested Begovic as they went in search of a second.
Striker Austin then had a half-hearted penalty appeal waved away by referee Anthony Taylor before Bournemouth dampened the mood with an equaliser in first-half added time.
The visitors had created little up to that point but, minutes after Nathan Ake was denied by the legs of Alex McCarthy, they made the most of another corner as Ryan Fraser’s delivery was flicked on by a combination of Steve Cook and Simon Francis for the unmarked King to volley home at the back post.
Ahead of kick-off, Cherries boss Eddie Howe urged his players to concentrate on securing their own top-flight status rather than attempting to inflict further misery on their hosts.
A first victory at Southampton on their 14th visit would have made that mathematically certain but they fell behind again nine minutes into the second period.
Cherries defender Cook made a mess of McCarthy’s long kick and Tadic collected the ball, drove forward and expertly found the bottom left corner from 20 yards.
Saints had numerous opportunities to wrap up the three points but could also have been pegged back.
Cherries keeper Begovic produced a fine save with his legs after substitute Shane Long had diverted Austin’s initial attempt goalwards, before denying Ryan Bertrand soon after.
Bournemouth have made a habit of late goals and picking up points from losing positions and Fraser almost added to that with two late efforts.
Great result! Great support! 👏🏼👏🏼— Francis Benali (@FrannyBenali) April 28, 2018
Turning up the pressure on the teams around us. 😇💪🏼🔴⚪️ #SaintsFC
His first was repelled by the feet of McCarthy before the Saints goalkeeper produced an even better stop to tip behind.
A period of sustained pressure during the closing minutes increased hope of a second equaliser among the healthy away following but they were left with nothing to celebrate as Saints dug in for vital victory which was greeted with a roar of relief.