Dusan Tadic scored a quick-fire brace as Southampton beat 10-man Norwich City 3-0 at St Mary’s on Sunday to record a first win of the Premier League campaign.
Seventh last season, Ronald Koeman’s Southampton had drawn two and lost one of their first three games, but victory lifted them into the top half of the table, one point above promoted Norwich.
After Norwich right-back Steven Whittaker had been sent off for two bookable offences, Graziano Pelle opened the scoring in first-half stoppage time and Serbia winger Tadic struck twice in the second half.
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It was the first time that 34-year-old Norwich manager Alex Neil had tasted defeat in an away league game since his appointment in January.
Showing three changes to the team eliminated from the Europa League by Danish champions FC Midtjylland on Thursday, Southampton were quick to put their opponents on the back foot.
James Ward-Prowse extended Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy with a dangerous free-kick in the second minute, while Pelle headed wide at a corner, Sadio Mane saw a shot held by Ruddy and Tadic drilled a shot wide.
Cameron Jerome squandered a chance to put Norwich ahead when he could not make telling contact with Graham Dorrans’s volleyed cross and in the 31st minute, the visitors’ chances took a hit with Whittaker’s dismissal.
Having just been booked for preventing Matt Targett from taking a quick throw-in, the Scotland international was shown a second yellow card for holding Tadic back on halfway.
Neil adjusted by sending on defender Andre Wisdom for schemer Wes Hoolahan, but his side’s hopes of holding out until half-time were dashed in first-half stoppage time.
After Ward-Prowse had done well to recover possession wide on the right, Mane crossed and Pelle swept the ball home at the near post.
Norwich survived a flurry of chances around the hour mark, with Ruddy parrying well from Mane and half-time substitute Jay Rodriguez before Pelle curled a shot into the side-netting from the edge of the box.
But Tadic scored twice in three minutes to break Norwich’s spirit, applying an assured first-time finish to Mane’s right-wing cross in the 64th minute and then following in to tap home when Pelle’s powerful header was parried by Ruddy.
Southampton goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg denied Bradley Johnson an injury-time consolation for Norwich, with Johnson’s fellow substitute Gary Hooper wastefully dragging the rebound wide.
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