Southampton was run off the pitch in an uninspiring 4-0 Premier League defeat at Aston Villa on Saturday, ending a seven-match unbeaten run across all competitions.
Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz each had first-half tallies—with Saints fortunate to not be further behind at the break—before Philippe Coutinho and Danny Ings made it a comprehensive victory for Villa.
Southampton posed little threat on goal throughout the match and didn’t record a shot on target until Che Adams forced a save in the 57th minute, but the damage was already done.
Saints, who were without first-choice centre back Mohammed Salisu through injury, suffered their first negative result since a 3-1 defeat to Wolves on January 15.
In that stretch, the South Coast club climbed up to ninth in the league table and reached the FA Cup quarterfinals with their win over West Ham last Wednesday.
Villa, meanwhile, picked up an important win in the race for a top-half finish with just two points separating ninth from 13th position.
The hosts made it 1-0 after just nine minutes when Ings played a perfectly weighted through ball to Watkins, who turned Jack Stephens inside out before firing beyond Fraser Forster.
Villa then had a chance to double their lead, but Jacob Ramsey headed well wide of the post with Ings making a similar run unmarked at the back post.
Watkins came close to adding to his earlier tally only for Forster to make a save with his foot after Coutinho played the forward into open space down the right side.
Saints were largely passengers in the opening half, but when they did finally create a chance, Adams headed over the bar from Tino Livramento’s cross.
Villa had a flurry of chances through Coutinho to push ahead further, but he fired wide of the far post before being deneid by Forster.
Douglas Luiz, however, made it 2-0 following sensational link-up play that saw Coutinho square the ball for a simple tap-in on 44 minutes.
Coutinho tried his luck again on the half-time whistle but dragged his shot inches wide after racing onto Watkin’s flick-on.
But the former Barcelona star finally found the scoresheet when he pounced on a blocked shot and threaded the ball through Forster’s legs to make it 3-0.
Ings turned from provided to goalscorer in the 54th minute when he connected first-time with Matthew Cash’s cut-back.
The road doesn’t get any easier with an in-form and re-tooled Newcastle visiting St Mary’s next Thursday.
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Martinez; Young, Mings, Chambers, Cash; Ramsey (Bailey 78), Luiz, McGinn; Coutinho (Buendia 81), Ings (Sanson 71), Watkins
Unused subs: Olsen (GK), Traore, Hause, Chrisene, Emeka Iroegbunam, O’Reilly
Goals: Watkins (9), Douglas Luiz (44), Coutinho (51), Ings (54)
Bookings: Watkins (75)
Southampton (4-4-2): Forster; Perraud (Walker-Peters 58), Stephens, Bednarek, Livramento; Elyounoussi (Valery 45), Romeu (Diallo 76), Ward-Prowse, S. Armstrong; Broja, Adams
Unused subs: Caballero (GK), A. Armstrong, Redmond, Djenepo, Smallbone, Walcott
Bookings: Romeu (69)