Saints demolished Sunderland on the way to their biggest ever Premier League win with an outstanding 8 (eight) -0 win at St Mary’s.
Ronald Koeman’s men have been rewriting the record books for fun in the opening stages of the season, and this latest success was as good as they come, as the goals flowed for the hosts.
Three first-half goals set them on their way, but even at that stage, few would have predicted the ease of which Saints would go on to run out convincing winners over Gus Poyet’s men.
An own goal got the ball rolling, as Santiago Vergini emphatically turned past his own goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who had an afternoon to quickly forget, with Saints adding goals from Graziano Pellè and Jack Cork before half-time.
In the second 45, five strikes came from another own goal, one more from Pellè, Dušan Tadić, Victor Wanyama, and substitute Sadio Mané, to record the hosts’ third consecutive win at St Mary’s, and end their hoodoo of not beating the Black Cats since returning to the top-flight.
Koeman had brought Shane Long and Jack Cork back into his starting line-up, with Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mané each taking up a place on the substitutes’ bench. Maya Yoshida also returned to the squad after recovering from injury.
Sunderland kept faith with strike pair Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher after the duo contributed goals in their win over Stoke City last time out.
The visitors prevented Saints from finding their usual strong early rhythm on home soil, and the Black Cats had the first opportunity of the match when a free-kick swung in by Jordi Gomez was headed over the top of Fraser Forster’s net by Connor Wickham.
Saints slowly grew into the game and saw the deadlock broken with 12 minutes on the watch in bizarre, if not spectacular fashion when Sunderland man Santiago Vergini attempted to put the ball out of play from Morgan Schneiderlin’s header into the area, but instead found the bottom corner of his own net with a truly special finish.
That breakthrough strike gave Koeman’s men something to build on and six minutes later they doubled their advantage following some poor defending from Sunderland. Vergini was involved again as the ball was given away to Steven Davis, and the Saints man – fresh from signing a new contract earlier in the week – kept his composure to cross along the six yard box where Graziano Pellè gleefully tapped home his fifth league goal of the season.
Sebastian Larsson saw a free-kick beaten away by Forster, before defender Patrick van Aanholt drilled a low shot wide as the visitors briefly threatened a recovery, although their claim for a penalty when Steven Fletcher jumped over the advancing Forster was correctly waved away, though the decision further incensed manager Gus Poyet.
That frustration boiled over when his own goalkeeper Vito Mannone couldn’t keep hold of Jack Cork’s side-footed finish at the far post just on 37 minutes which saw Saints stretch their lead to 3-0.
Saints may not have been begrudged a fourth when at the end of the half there was a superb link-up between Tadić and Pellè which threatened to draw the best goal of the lot, until the Italian’s effort screwed wide of the target.
Poyet sent his side out early for the second 45 with former Chelsea man Liam Bridcutt replacing Wes Brown at the back, but Saints continued to cause the visitors problems, with Steven Davis going close to extending the lead when he collected Pellè’s knockdown to strike a fierce shot over.
Sunderland had a good chance to pull one back when a free-kick from Larsson found Fletcher at the far post who nodded it back to Vergini, who facing his opponent’s goal this time couldn’t find the target.
Poyet rolled the dice for the last time with a double switch on the hour mark with both Adam Johnson and Jack Rodwell coming on for Gomez and Larsson.
But it was 4-0 soon after that. Moments on from Tadić seeing a close range effort cleared from the line, Saints settled the contest once and for all. Bertrand’s advance down the left flank saw him benefit from a one-two where he then cut the ball across to Pellè, whose low shot was parried by Mannone, and although already on its way into the net, the ball was then comically carried over the line by Bridcutt.
The ease of which Saints made it 5-0 led to a full team investigation by the visitors while the hosts celebrated Pellè’s second goal of the game. The Italian rolled the ball home from Tadić’s short pass into the area, putting his shot into the far corner past a beleaguered Mannone.
With the life sucked out of Sunderland, the hosts piled on the misery even after Pellè had blazed over, with the sixth goal arriving when Dušan Tadić capped a game to forget for Mannone whose short pass out from the back was turned back into the net by the Serbian from over 30 yards out.
Number seven arrived with over ten minutes still remaining when Tadić turned provider again to tee up Wanyama who rifled home a stunning strike.
It was eight when substitute Sadio Mané ran into the area to side-foot home Tadić’s latest assist with four minutes remaining with what would eventually end up as the last strike of an unforgettable victory.
Southampton team: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte (c), Toby Alderweireld, Ryan Bertrand, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, Steven Davis, (Sadio Mané 65) Dušan Tadić, Shane Long (Victor Wanyama 65), Graziano Pellè (Emmanuel Mayuka 80)
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Maya Yoshida, Florin Gardos, Harrison Reed
Goals: Vergini (OG) (12), Pellé (18) & (69), Cork (37), Bridcutt (OG) (63), Tadić (77), Wanyama (79), Mané (86)
Booked: Schneiderlin (50)
Sunderland team: Vito Mannone, Patrick van Aanholt, Wes Brown (Liam Bridcutt 46), John O’Shea (c), Santiago Vergini, Sebastian Larsson (Jack Rodwell 60), Lee Cattermole, Jordi Gomez (Adam Johnson 60), Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher
Unused substitutes: Costel Pantilimon, Adilson Cabral, Charalampos Mavrias, Danny Graham
Booked: Wickham (9), Cattermole (25), Bridcutt (82)
Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 29,615 (including 2,559 away)