Nathan Tella scored his first senior goal as Southampton defeated relegated Fulham to register back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since December.
Che Adams punished poor set-piece defending to sweep Saints ahead with an instinctive half-volley when the Cottagers allowed James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick to bounce in the six-yard box.
Tella came off the bench in the second half to steer home Kyle Walker-Peters’ pinpoint low ball across the face of the Fulham penalty area within two minutes of his introduction.
Fulham, whose relegation had been confirmed by Monday’s defeat at home to Burnley, pulled one back as 18-year-old Fabio Carvalho drilled in off the crossbar to score on his first Premier League start.
But the teenager’s strike, Fulham’s first goal from open play in more than seven and a half hours, could not prevent Scott Parker’s side slipping to a seventh defeat in eight league games.
Southampton sealed victory in the closing stages as Adams and Tella combined, the latter’s backheel finding Theo Walcott, whose shot looped home via a slight deflection.
Adams on course for Euros
Ward-Prowse and Adams combined nicely for Southampton’s opener and it is not inconceivable they could be lining up against each other at Wembley on 18 June when England and Scotland meet in the Euro 2020 group stages.
Adams has capped a season of top-flight improvement with a first Scotland call-up after switching allegiance from England and netted his first international goal in March’s World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.
His intuitive finish, crashing an unstoppable strike past Alphonse Areola when Ward-Prowse’s wide free-kick dropped at his feet, bore the hallmark of a forward high in confidence, his nine goals this term more than doubling the four he managed in 2019-20, his first Premier League season.
But Adams’ build-up play impressed too, as he set up a first-half chance for Takumi Minamino before playing a role in Walcott’s late third, which took a nick off Cottagers defender Joe Bryan on its way in.
Tella’s contributions – a cool finish to open his professional account and a skilful assist for Walcott – were also easy on the eye after he replaced a subdued Danny Ings, and the attacking depth Saints showed here will encourage a fanbase worried about the England striker’s future, with his contract expiring next summer.
More Saints sorrow for Fulham
Fulham have on only one of their 31 league visits to Southampton – back in 1935 – and it always seemed a 22nd defeat in that sorry sequence was on the way once Adams steered Saints ahead.
The Cottagers have only rescued two points from losing positions this season and only really showed any signs of rallying once they fell two behind at St Mary’s.
A last-ditch Jack Stephens tackle thwarted Ivan Cavaleiro and Bryan whistled a shot just wide from 25 yards before Carvalho fired home Bobby Decordova-Reid’s through ball via the crossbar.
It was Fulham’s first goal from open play since Aleksandar Mitrovic’s opener in the 3-1 defeat at Aston Villa at the beginning of April, with only a Josh Maja penalty at Arsenal to show in the four games since.
That they were still in the game owed plenty to Areola, who thwarted a Ward-Prowse free-kick and a Nathan Redmond strike, as well as saving from Tella late on, although Carvalho’s contribution, neat and tidy in possession throughout, will offer hope as the Cottagers look to next season in the Championship.
Saints skipper a set-piece standard-setter – the stats
- Southampton have netted three or more goals in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since December 2018 (vs Arsenal and Huddersfield).
- Fulham have only registered one win in 31 league visits to Southampton (D8 L22) and are winless in 10 top-flight visits to the Saints (D4 L6).
- All seven of James Ward-Prowse’s Premier League assists this season have come from set-piece situations, with the Saints captain providing more such assists than any other player.
- Fabio Carvalho (18 years 258 days) became Fulham’s third youngest goalscorer in the Premier League behind only Ryan Sessegnon (18y 155d) and Collins John (18y 176d).
- Southampton’s Nathan Tella, who scored his first senior goal in his 21st appearance, found the net just 98 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
More to follow.
- 19MinaminoSubstituted forWalcottat 76′minutes
- 17ArmstrongSubstituted forDialloat 78′minutes
- 9IngsSubstituted forTellaat 58′minutes
- 5AndersenBooked at 26mins
- 34AinaSubstituted forBryanat 62′minutes
- 14De Cordova-Reid
- 25OnomahSubstituted forMajaat 76′minutes
- 29Zambo AnguissaSubstituted forLookmanat 63′minutes
Match ends, Southampton 3, Fulham 1.
Second Half ends, Southampton 3, Fulham 1.
Foul by Harrison Reed (Fulham).
Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Nathan Tella (Southampton).
Josh Maja (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Ademola Lookman (Fulham).
Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Fabio Carvalho (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Harrison Reed with a headed pass.
Corner, Fulham. Conceded by Jack Stephens.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Alphonse Areola.
Attempt saved. Nathan Tella (Southampton) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Che Adams.
Goal! Southampton 3, Fulham 1. Theo Walcott (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Nathan Tella.
Hand ball by Bobby De Cordova-Reid (Fulham).
Josh Maja (Fulham) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Mohammed Salisu (Southampton).
Substitution, Southampton. Ibrahima Diallo replaces Stuart Armstrong.
Substitution, Southampton. Theo Walcott replaces Takumi Minamino.
Substitution, Fulham. Josh Maja replaces Josh Onomah.
Goal! Southampton 2, Fulham 1. Fabio Carvalho (Fulham) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Bobby De Cordova-Reid.