Koeman: Saints played their best football of the season

Rob Conlon
Graziano Pelle: Striker celebrated his goal with the haka

Graziano Pelle: Striker celebrated his goal with the haka

Ronald Koeman said the first half of the South Coast derby victory over Bournemouth was the best football Southampton have played this term.

First-half goals from Steven Davis and Graziano Pele eased the Saints to a 2-0 win, despite seeing midfielder Victor Wanyama sent off for two bookable offences.

The reult took the Saints up to seventh in the table and they are now unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, and manager Ronald Koeman labelled his side’s first-half display as “fantastic”.

“I think the first 45 minutes was the best football we have played so far this season. We had good movement, scored great goals. It was the best the team can play,” he told Sky Sports.

“We learnt from the Leicester game where we were 2-0 up but we’re defending better. Opponents will always give a reaction and you have to deal with that.”

Bournemouth arguably had the better of the second half – with Harry Arter particularly impressing on his first Premier League start – but lacked the clinical edge required to truly worry the hosts.

And Cherries manager Howe felt his side were punished for their poor first-half showing.

“The second half was everything we wanted the first half to be, but unfortunately we were well off the pace in the first 45 minutes and [that] made it very difficult for us,” he said.

“But it was the complete reverse in the second half, but the only thing missing from our performance was the goals.”

Bournemouth are now a point off 18th-placed Newcastle, whom they host at Dean Court next week.

“Technically I think we showed we can compete at this level, our passing and movement proved that. We need to stick to our strengths and eradicate our mistakes,” Howe added.

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