Stylish Saints up to third place

AFP , Sunday 13 Dec 2020

If a top four bid proves beyond them, Southampton have shown they are firmly in the hunt for at least a place in the Europa League.

Southampton's Che Adams celebrates scoring against Sheffield United AFP

Southampton climbed to third place in the Premier League with a stylish 3-0 win against struggling Sheffield United on Sunday.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's side took the lead when Che Adams netted against his former club in front of 2,000 fans at rain-lashed St Mary's.

Stuart Armstrong increased Southampton's advantage before Nathan Redmond wrapped up their fifth victory in the last seven games.

If a top four bid proves beyond them, Southampton have shown they are firmly in the hunt for at least a place in the Europa League.

Bottom of the table United remain without a win this season, having lost 11 of their 12 games to leave them in grave danger of relegation.

The woeful Blades have made the second worst start in the history of the English top-flight, with only Manchester United taking fewer points from their opening 12 games in 1930-31.

Danny Ings, back after a knee injury, started for Southampton for the first time in six weeks after coming off the bench to score in Monday's 2-1 win at Brighton.

Ings should have put Southampton ahead in the 17th minute when Adams' pass split the United defence, but the England striker's shot was too close to Blades keeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Southampton were on top and Jan Vestergaard rose highest to head just wide from a corner.

Sander Berge couldn't keep his shot on target from Enda Stevens' cross as the Blades finally mounted a threat.

Southampton's dominance was rewarded in the 34th minute.

James Ward-Prowse's free-kick wasn't cleared by Phil Jagielka and Jan Bednarek headed it towards Adams, who scuffed a volley past Ramsdale from close-range for his fourth goal of the season.

Adams has now been directly involved in 10 goals in his last 14 Premier League games dating back to last season.

John Egan wasted a chance to equalise when he headed wide early in the second half.

Instead, Armstrong doubled Southampton's lead in the 62nd minute when his strike from the edge of the area deflected off Jagielka and trickled past the wrong-footed Ramsdale.

Ramsdale saved well from Ings, but he couldn't prevent Redmond inflicting more damage in the 83rd minute when the substitute drilled a low drive into the far corner.

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