A key, and unfortunate, characteristic of this Southampton side is its ability to throw away a lead.
On Boxing Day, Saints gave away their lead to West Ham United on two occasions, but after Jan Bednarek scored his team’s third to make it 3-2, Southampton seemed to have shed that spinelessness that has blighted them in 2021.
Southampton were finally rewarded with a win their good play warranted and showed just enough defensive grit to take all three points back to the South Coast from East London - their first win in seven Premier League games.
Saints made their early pressure pay when Mohamed Elyounoussi stroked the ball home from a Kyle Walker-Peters - a fine finish which West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men had to withstand some pressure over periods in the first 45 minutes, but held on to enter the half-time break ahead.
That resistance was quickly broken after play resumed when substitute Michail Antonio made headed home the equaliser, nodding on another headed ball from Craig Dawson.
Not long after, Saints striker Armando Broja was hauled down in the box by Dawson. After input from VAR and a pitchside monitor review, referee Kevin Friend awarded Southampton the penalty.
James Ward-Prowse duly converted the spot kick, firing to Fabianski’s right. The Polish goalkeeper guessed right, but was unable to stop the low, powerful strike.
Southampton’s 2-1 lead didn’t last long, though. West Ham instantly hit back when Said Benrahma coolly finished from Jarrod Bowen’s well-placed cross from the right wing.
Just when you thought Saints were going to capitulate yet again, they took the lead for the third time.
Ward-Prowse whipped in a free-kick which met the head of defender Jan Bednarek, whose effort sailed into the net beyond Fabianski to make it 3-2 to the visitors on 70 minutes.
Southampton had to dig deep to hold onto that final scoreline advantage and did well to minimise any West Ham threats on goal to take home all three points.
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Soucek, Rice; Vlasic (Antonio 45’), Fornals (Lanzini 45’), Benrahma (Yarmolenko 81’); Bowen
Unused subs: Areola, Noble, Fredericks, Johnson, Kral, Ashby
Goals: Antonio (49’), Benrahma (64’)
Bookings: Dawson, Rice, Bowen
Southampton (4-1-4-1): Forster; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; Romeu (Diallo 90+3’); Redmond, Ward-Prowse, Elyounoussi, Walcott (S. Armstrong 89’); Broja (Adams 81’)
Unused subs: Caballero, A. Armstrong, Long, Perraud, Simeu, Valery
Goals: Elyounoussi (8’), Ward-Prowse (61’), Bednarek (70’)
Bookings: Bednarek, Walker-Peters, Broja