Victor Wanyama’s first ever goal for Southampton was decisive as Saints saw off ten-man Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
The Kenyan midfielder had only entered the action as a 69th minute substitute in place of the injured James Ward-Prowse, yet just over ten minutes after his introduction to the game, he burst into the hosts’ penalty area to smash in the only goal of a hard-fought contest in which Swans’ forward Wilfried Bony was sent-off in the closing stages of the first half for his second bookable offence.
A tight affair was made tougher for Ronald Koeman’s men after the dismissal of Bony as the home side tried their best to shut out a fluid Saints team, but their resolve ended through an unlikely source with Wanyama’s intervention.
Saints had coincidentally scored the last league goal at the Liberty from the tail-end of last season, with Swansea’s defeat meaning that they are still yet to defeat Southampton home or away since a Championship meeting in 2008.
Saints were without Toby Alderweireld through injury for this game, so Maya Yoshida returned to partner captain José Fonte in the centre of defence.
There was one other change from the team that started the win over Newcastle at St Mary’s with James Ward-Prowse replacing Steven Davis in midfield.
Swansea named former Saints man Nathan Dyer in their side, with Federico Fernandez making a full debut for the hosts in defence.
Koeman’s team applied the early pressure in a fast start to the contest by the visitors, but they were unable to test Lukasz Fabianski early on.
The Swans were able to combat that pressure, and looked to have gained the edge in the match as they had the better of the chances which followed.
Gylf Sigurdsson saw his strike from distance saved by Forster, before a half clearance by Nathaniel Clyne landed at feet of Wayne Routledge who skewed a volley wide of the right post.
A fiery couple of minutes saw both Wilfried Bony and José Fonte each booked as tempers flared over minimal contact challenges, with the home supporters particularly unhappy over Bony’s caution.
Swansea came back again with Routledge again getting in a good position to receive Sigurdsson’s pass, before smacking a shot back off the crossbar, and then Saints were grateful to Fonte for his block on the goalbound shot from Ki Sung-Yeung.
Saints responded when Dušan Tadić and Ryan Bertrand linked-up on the right, where the full-back’s cross found Pellè, whose low shot on the turn was held by Fabianski.
The hosts had the last two noteworthy moments of the half with Bony at the centre of them. First, he saw a header from Sigurddson’s corner, cleared from the line by Bertrand, before he then made the tackle that would end his contribution to the game, with a lunge on Yoshida.
Saints’ Japanese centre half was replaced at half-time by Florin Gardos, with the visitors attacking the end housing the away supporters for the second 45 minutes.
Bertrand became the third Saint to go into the book for a clumsy foul on Nathan Dyer shortly into the new half, but Saints soon found their rhythm in attack again, with Tadić central to that threat from his position on the left.
On 55 minutes, the Serbian winger cut inside from that side to see a deflected strike loop narrowly over the crossbar.
Moments later, Saints turned the screw again when Clyne delivered a pinpoint cross from the right which Pellè connected a header to, but Fabianski watched it all the way to collect comfortably.
The opportunities kept coming for Saints, with Tadić crossing into the area where Pellè headed at goal, forcing Fabianski into a smart save.
James Ward-Prowse was forced off with a knock which saw him leave the action on a stretcher, paving the way for the introduction of Victor Wanyama with 20 minutes or so of play remaining.
With the ball staying under Saints’ possession half for much of the play, Tadić went on a one-man mission to try and create an opening in the final third. The winger was then handed a chance himself to take aim at goal with a free-kick which he drove over the wall and down to the near post of Fabianski’s goal, where the Swansea glovesman made a low save.
A keenly contested battle in the Swans half continued, until Saints finally broke the deadlock with ten minutes remaining.
Pellè’s unselfish pass into the path of Wanyama was taken full advantage of by the Kenyan, who held off the challenges of two Swansea defenders before stabbing in a high shot past Fabianski for 1-0.
Swansea introduced Marvin Emnes to try and catch a goal on the break in the closing stages, but Saints would go closest to increasing their lead with both Pellè and Steven Davis each firing wide, as the visitors settled for their solitary strike.
Swansea City team: Lukasz Fabianski, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams (c), Federico Fernandez, Angel Rangel, Ki Sung-Yeung (Marvin Emnes 85), Jonjo Shelvey, Nathan Dyer (Jefferson Montero 60), Wayne Routledge, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wilfried Bony
Unused substitutes: Gerhard Tremmel, Tom Carroll, Bafetimbi Gomis, Kyle Bartley, Jazz Richards
Sent off: Bony
Southampton team: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, José Fonte (c), Maya Yoshida (Florin Gardos 46), Ryan Bertrand, Jack Cork (Steven Davis 63), Morgan Schneiderlin, James Ward-Prowse (Victor Wanyama 69), Dušan Tadić, Shane Long, Graziano Pellè
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Emmanuel Mayuka, Matt Targett, Sam McQueen
Booked: Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Schneiderlin
Goal: Wanyama (80)
Referee: Jon Moss