Southampton progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup by beating Wolves in a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Danny Ings and Stuart Armstrong.
Ings put them ahead in the 49th minute, albeit with a hint of fortune, as his shot hit the keeper, deflected back onto him and into the net.
The lead was doubled in the final minute of normal time, as Armstrong made it 2-0 after capitalising on some mistakes at the back from Wolves.
The visitors deserved their victory as Nuno Espirito Santo’s selection gamble for the hosts backfired.
Nuno made six changes – including giving captain Conor Coady a rare rest – in a surprise selection considering the FA Cup remained Wolves’ best chance of success – and a return to Europe – this year.
They continued to stutter though, having won just four times since November, and will seek instant revenge in the Premier League at St Mary’s on Sunday.
While Ralph Hasenhuttl made five he was still able to recall Kyle Walker-Peters and hand Mohammed Salisu his debut after an £10.9million summer move from Real Valladolid.
The Saints – who also included James Ward-Prowse – tried to make their strength tell early.
Ruddy gathered Armstrong’s drive at the second attempt as Ings lurked before the striker, with one goal in his previous 10 games, was then thwarted by Romain Saiss.
Armstrong continued to cause problems and Max Kilman’s sprawling block turned his drive behind.
Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster was, aside from one hurried clearance, a spectator, although Salisu survived a VAR review when Morgan Gibbs-White tumbled under pressure in the box.
Wolves, with just 23 goals in 23 Premier League games, struggled to pose a threat but Southampton’s early dominance had waned and Saiss lifted Joao Moutinho’s free kick over just before the break.
The hosts then escaped three minutes into the second half when Armstrong missed a glorious chance. The midfielder arrived unmarked in the area but managed to sidefoot Ryan Bertrand’s cross wide with the goal gaping.
Ings opens scoring with hint of fortune
Ings saved his blushes a minute later when he fortuitously opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season. The striker burst through and when his initial shot was saved by Ruddy the ball ricochet back off Ings and rolled in.
It was initially ruled offside but a VAR review showed the forward was onside.
Ings strikes! 😇
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 11, 2021
However lucky, it was a lead Southampton deserved and the visitors now had a platform but Fabio Silva came close to an instant leveller when he fired Gibbs-White’s cross over the bar.
It summed up Wolves’ wastefulness and allowed the hosts to pass the three hour mark without a shot on target.
Nathan Redmond should have punished them after 67 minutes when he wasted the chance to finish the tie. The winger raced onto Armstrong’s pass, only for Ruddy’s smart save to turn the ball wide.
Wolves’ still had hope and they pushed to send the game into extra time – with Forster saving from Adama Traore at the far post after Salisu missed Pedro Neto’s cross.
But Armstrong made it 2-0 in stoppage time when Ruddy made a hash of Leander Dendoncker’s backpass and Nathan Tella teed up the midfielder to curl in off the post.
Wolves then avoided further misery when VAR overturned a penalty, awarded by Jon Moss, when it showed Moutinho’s foul on Tella was outside the box.