Southampton 4 Aston Villa 1: Saints off the mark after Lambert brace

Southampton 4 Aston Villa 1: Saints off the mark after Lambert brace

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UPDATED:

16:57 GMT, 22 September 2012

Rickie Lambert-inspired Southampton
produced a superb comeback to collect their first victory back in the
top flight against Aston Villa.

Saints came into the match rooted to
the bottom of the standings after four successive defeats but secured
three points on the south coast as their 30-year-old talisman netted
twice and set up another.

Hit man: Southampton's English striker Rickie Lambert equalises

Hit man: Southampton's English striker Rickie Lambert scres the equaliser

Match facts

Southampton: Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Fox (Richardson 46), Puncheon (Mayuka 74), Schneiderlin, Steven Davis (Ward-Prowse 79), Lallana, Lambert, Ramirez. Subs Not Used: Kelvin Davis, Rodriguez, Do Prado, Seaborne.

Booked: Clyne.

Goals: Lambert 58, Clyne 63, Clark 72 og, Lambert 90 pen.

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Lichaj (Bennett 68), Holman, Ireland (Westwood 46), El Ahmadi, Bannan (Agbonlahor 68), Bent, Benteke.
Subs Not Used: Given,N'Zogbia, Bowery, Weimann.

Booked: Vlaar,Lichaj,Guzan.

Goals: Bent 36.

Att: 30,713

Ref: Jon Moss (W Yorkshire).

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Their miserable start to life back in the Premier League had looked set to continue after sloppy defending allowed Darren Bent to break the deadlock in the first half.

It was the 15th goal conceded by Nigel Adkins' side in just five top-flight matches but, for once, their inability to defend did not cost them.

Lambert drew the hosts level in the second half after firing home under pressure and the match turned on its head five minutes later.

Nathaniel Clyne slotted home from close range after latching on to a superb through-ball from new boy Gaston Ramirez, before Jason Puncheon saw a shot deflected in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark to make it 3-1. Lambert netted his second of the day from the spot in stoppage-time.

The big talk pre-match was about Nigel Adkins' gutsy decision to drop club captain Kelvin Davis in favour of Premier League debutant Paulo Gazzaniga.

The 20-year-old Argentinian goalkeeper joined the south coast club from Gillingham in the summer and was one of three changes made after the 6-1 hiding at Arsenal last weekend.

Hold on: Lambert celebrates

Hold on: Lambert celebrates

Recent acquisitions Maya Yoshida and
Ramirez were handed their first starts for the hosts, who were quickest
to settle at St Mary's.
Puncheon saw a neat one-two that was just too strong for Ramirez, who
then played through Lambert on the left flank only for the striker to
blaze over unbalanced.
For all of Southampton's early pressure they were being reduced to
long-range efforts, with former Villa midfielder Steven Davis and
Ramirez both screwing wide from distance.

Stunner: Jason Puncheon scores their third goal

Stunner: Jason Puncheon scores their third goal

Cool head: Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton scores despite the efforts of Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa

Cool head: Nathaniel Clyne of Southampton scores despite the efforts of Ashley Westwood of Aston Villa

Done it: Nathaniel Clyne celebrates his first goal for three years

Done it: Nathaniel Clyne celebrates his first goal for three years

The visitors had not created the same opportunities but were looking
dangerous whenever they attacked the hosts' new-look backline, with a
late lunging tackle by Jose Fonte preventing Bent.

Going forward Adam Lallana was proving Southampton's most dangerous
outlet and attempted an over-head kick during a penalty box melee on the
half-hour mark.

That was caught comfortably by Brad Guzan, and when Villa broke, Stephen Ireland's deep cross was volleyed wide by Barry Bannan.

It was a warning shot that Saints failed to heed as Bent handed Villa a 36th-minute lead.

Saints failed to clear their lines as Ireland's mis-hit shot fell to the
England international, who reacted quickly to ghost in between Yoshida
and Danny Fox to tap home.

It was just reward for Villa as their tactics of frustrating the hosts
and waiting for a mistake by their leaky defence paid dividends.

Ron Vlaar was booked as half-time approached for a trip before the break, where both sides made changes.

Ashley Westwood replaced Ireland for Villa, while Saints hauled off Fox and brought on right-back Frazer Richardson.

First up: Aston Villa's Darren Bent opens the scoring

First up: Aston Villa's Darren Bent opens the scoring

Darren Bent of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring

Darren Bent of Aston Villa celebrates after scoring

Clyne switched to the left as a result for Saints, who saw Puncheon test Guzan from an acute angle seconds after the restart.

Villa, though, were playing confidently with Bent forcing Gazzaniga into
action at his near post after latching on to a nice through ball by
Benteke.

The Belgium international was impressing on his first start and should
have extended Villa's advantage in the 50th minute, meeting a Bannan
corner with a powerful header that flew just over.

Eric Lichaj was booked for a late challenge on Morgan Schneiderlin as
Southampton pushed for an equaliser, with referee Jon Moss waving away
penalty appeals from Lambert at the resulting-free-kick, denying him a
chance at levelling from the spot.

However, the 30-year-old would not be stopped for long as he expertly
controlled a driven Lallana cross from the right and lashed home under
pressure from four Villa defenders.

The 58th-minute leveller seemed to lift a weight off the Southampton
players' shoulders as Lallana soon flashed a 25-yard effort just over,
before Clyne then snuck in to put Saints ahead.

Relief: Southampton manager Nigel Atkins

Relief: Southampton manager Nigel Atkins

Having started the move, the defender burst into the box and collected
an exquisite Ramirez ball to slot home from close range in the 63rd
minute.

Clyne was booked in the aftermath as Villa introduced Gabby Agbonlahor
and Joe Bennett in a bid to stem the flow, with the latter's first
action seeing Puncheon cut past him and curl just wide.

It was 3-1 in the 72nd minute when
Puncheon picked up the ball from Lambert and showed good control before
rifling home a shot from the edge of the six-yard box which was defended
in by Villa defender Ciaran Clark.

Puncheon received a standing ovation from the majority of the 30,713
inside St Mary's when he was substituted, with replacement Emmanuel
Mayuka curling inches wide in the 78th minute.

Mayuka saw a shot saved at the near post as the clock wound down before
he was brought down in the box by Guzan in stoppage time.

The American received a booking for the challenge and Lambert slotted
home the spot-kick to give Saints their first Premier League victory
since defeating Norwich 4-3 in April 2005.