A record-breaking hat-trick from Sadio Mane was the highlight in Southampton’s astounding 6-1 victory over Aston Villa.
Graziano Pelle and Christian Benteke had good opportunities before Mane’s quick hat-trick pretty much finished off the match only 15 minutes in. Long then added another two before Benteke headed in a consolation just before the break.
It was a slow starting second period with Maya Yoshida and Nathaniel Clyne having efforts close to end before Pelle got his first and Southampton’s sixth. Gabriel Agbonlahor had a chance at the death but it wasn’t enough to stop Villa being on an end of a demolition.
Pelle looked to have given Southampton the lead only four minutes in but the Italian was wrongly flagged offside, Pelle coolly slotted past Shay Given for what would have been his 16th goal of the season before the flag went up but further viewings show that he was very much onside.
Benteke had an excellent opportunity to give the away side the lead in the 11th minute when he was put through on goal but the Belgian could only find the side-netting with his effort.
Aston Villa boss Tim Sherwood giving his orders. Image: Reuters.
The striker would have wished that he took his opportunity as what followed was the quickest hat-trick in Premier League history from Mane.
His first came in the 12th minute when he managed to get his shot off despite the pressure from the defender, Given came rushing out and managed to get a touch on it but the deflection set up perfectly for the midfielder who had an easy tap in.
Two minutes later he got his second curtsey of Ron Vlaar’s horrific error. The defender hit a dangerous back pass to Given who managed to get to it but his kick deflected straight to Mane who had an empty net to collect his brace.
A minute later he completed his hat-trick, a simple ball into area was met by the midfielder who hit the effort into the roof of the net with the help of a touch from Given which give him the record of the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history in an incredible two minutes and 56 seconds.
Ten minutes after they got their fourth goal, the hat-trick hero Mane plays it through to Pelle but him his met by Given however the ball again deflects into a Saints player this time it was Long who had another simple tap-in.
Long got his second seven minutes before the break, the striker saw his fellow compatriot, Given off his line and hit an excellent, composed finish from distance over his head and into the net.
In first-half injury time Villa managed to get one back, an excellent ball into the area from Leandro Bacuna found the head of Benteke who rose above the defenders to hit a powerful header past Paulo Gazzaniga into the net.
The second period was the complete opposite to the first and took a while to get in gear with the first real opportunity coming 15 minutes before the end.
A good set piece from James Ward-Prowse was met by the head of substitute Yoshida but his headed effort was well saved by Given and Vlaar cleared it away. Clyne, whose last Premier League goal came against Villa in the reverse fixture almost scored when he received the ball outside the area but he hit it well over the crossbar.
Nine minutes before the end Southampton got their sixth goal, a good low ball from Mane found Pelle who hit a sweet, composed finish above Given and into the net.
The final opportunity of the match fell to the visitors in injury time, substitute Agbonlahor managed to get Alan Hutton’s ball into the area but Gazzaniga who didn’t have a lot to do all game managed to pull off a great save before Ashley Westwood skied the follow-up.
This was an much needed win for Ronald Koeman’s side after a recent run of poor form and this performance especially in the first half very much made up for that and gave the Saints a massive boost in their search of Europa League football next season.
Tim Sherwood will be bitterly disappointed with his sides showing as a point would of all but secured their Premier League safety, there is still a sense of nervousness regarding the issue after this performance but Villa should survive and the focus will be on their date at Wembley with Arsenal in the FA Cup final at the end of the month.