Ronald Koeman praised Southampton’s attitude after the Saints stretched their unbeaten record away from home to six matches.
Dusan Tadic’s second-half penalty secured a 1-0 win at struggling Sunderland to leave Southampton seventh in the Premier League, and Koeman believes his side were good value for the three points.
“This is a well deserved result. The penalty was well taken and that brings three points, a second clean sheet in a row and we’re still unbeaten away from home,” the Dutchman said.
“I think that’s fantastic. We keep fighting, working hard and playing good football.”
Koeman thinks European football is a realistic target for Saints this season and added: “I think if we reach European football, it would be like we had won the title.”
Asked if that was possible, he replied: “Of course it’s possible. Why not? Why not? Do you think it’s possible? We have the experience from last year.
“We know it’s difficult because it’s not easy to beat big teams, big clubs after 38 games in the Premier League. But we have potential, we have qualities, in my opinion, we have a squad now to fight for that.
“That’s very good, that’s positive and we will see what happens at the end of the season.”
However, Koeman admitted a top-four finish is beyond the Saints.
He said: “No, no, no. Top four? It’s maybe too difficult. Qualifying for Europe means maybe seventh place – like last season – is possible, six, five, four…
“It’s too early in the season to have an opinion on things about that. We like to enjoy football – that’s one of the best qualities, how we like to play, and then you will win a lot of games, we know.”
The Saints face a tough task to continue their away record – their next trip is to league leaders Manchester City on November 28.
Can Koeman’s outfit challenge for Europe this season? Have your say on our new Southampton forum.