Sofiane Boufal’s stunning strike lifted Southampton over Middlesbrough at St Mary’s in the Premier League.
Boufal, who scored his first goal at Saints in a similarly impressive fashion in the EFL Cup, hammered a left-footed shot from 20 yards past ‘Boro shot stopper Victor Valdes shortly after the restart.
Claude Puel, hoping to mend wounds left from Southampton’s Europa League exit on Thursday, was rewarded for making eight changes, which included the outspoken Jose Fonte.
Middlesbrough are only three points above the relegation zone, despite collecting five points from their last five matches (1W, 2D, 2L), whilst Southampton moved into 10th place with the win.
Southampton controlled possession throughout the first half, but an early chance came to Middlesbrough when Jordan Rhodes drew a save from Fraser Forster at his near post.
Jordy Clasie turned provider after snatching at a shot just moments before, though Jay Rodriguez was only able to hit into Valdes’ grasp on 20 minutes.
Middlesbrough came closest to breaking the deadlock shortly after the half hour mark, but the post denied Viktor Fischer before Jose Fonte and Sam McQueen recovered to help prevent an effort on target.
Boufal moment of brilliance arrived in the 54th minute when he received the ball from James Ward-Prowse and took two touches before striking an effort past a flat-footed Valdes.
Southampton had a chances to double their lead over the last quarter-hour, but Steven Davis headed over the bar and Rodriguez saw his cleared off the line by Adam Clayton.
Southampton: Forster, McQueen, van DIjk, Fonte, Martina, Romeu, Clasie (Long 85), Ward-Prowse, Tadic (Redmond 46), Boufal (Davis 73), Rodriguez.
Unused subs: Taylor (GK), Bertrand, Yoshida, Reed.
Goals: Boufal (54).
Bookings: Tadic (22), Boufal (45), Fonte (55), Romeu (58).
Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Chambers, Gibson, Fabio, Clayton, De Roon, Forshaw, Stuani (Traore 81), Fischer, Rhodes.
Unused subs: Guzan (GK), Bernardo, Nsue, Leadbitter, Downing, Nugent.
Bookings: Stuani (18), Forshaw (52), Clayton (80).