Sadio Mane broke the record for the fastest Premier League hat-trick in history as Southampton’s Europa League hopes were boosted with a 6-1 demolition over FA Cup finalists Aston Villa at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Ronald Koeman’s men signed off their home campaign with a scintillating performance in the glorious sunshine of the south coast, as Shane Long’s double and Graziano Pelle’s 12th league goal of the season kept the Saints fans in good spirits.
Villa could have confirmed their Premier League safety with a win, but Christian Benteke’s first half goal was nothing but a consolation strike in a thumping defeat ahead of that Wembley showpiece against Arsenal.
The home side should have had a 1-0 lead after just four minutes when Pelle slammed in from 6 yards only to be denied incorrectly by the linesman flag. Just after, former Villa loanee Ryan Bertrand played in the Italian striker but Shay Given made a stunning save, temporarily proving Tim Sherwood’s decision to drop Brad Guzan as correct.
Villa did have one good moment before it all fell apart, as Benteke should have gave Sherwood’s men the lead. Fabian Delph’s clever pass allowed the Belgian space in the penalty area but instead of sliding past the goalkeeper with his left foot, Benteke poked wide with his right foot and then it all went wrong for the away side.
A stunning two minutes and 56 seconds spell broke all kinds of records as Mane grabbed himself a match ball. First, Pelle’s clever pass through allowed him to get through the Villa defence and despite Given making a good save, the rebound fell straight back to Southampton’s number 10 who gleefully grabbed his first of the day.
He added his second soon after as Villa’s shambolic defending came back to haunt them. Ron Vlaar continued his run of poor form with a weak back-pass that fell through to Long but Given, who announced he’s retiring at the end of the season, managed a good save once again. Unfortunately for him, Mane was on hand to tap in the rebound and Villa were shell-shocked.
Just seconds after, Mane grabbed himself the quickest Premier League hat-trick in Premier League history thanks to more sloppy defending from this Villa side. Leandro Bacuna was beaten way too easily on the left wing and it allowed Long to pull back onto the penalty spot where Mane was waiting to slam into the top corner.
Villa managed to hold off the frenetic Saints attack for a further ten minutes before Long grabbed his first to make it 4-0. The former West Bromwich Albion striker tapped in after Given made another stunning save from Pelle, but turned to see his Republic of Ireland team-mate putting the ball into the empty net.
Villa should have pulled a goal back when Delph curled wide from 18 yards, but Long was quick to wow the St. Mary’s with a stunning fifth goal for the home side. Bacuna’s poor pass allowed the Southampton striker to pick the pocket of Ashley Westwood and let fly from 40 yards with a curling effort that flew into the top corner, embarrassing the Aston Villa goalkeeper.
Just before half-time, Villa did pull a goal back as Benteke continued his amazing scoring run twelve goals in eleven games. Bacuna’s cross from the right was powerfully headed home by the Belgian striker for Villa’s 500th away goal in Premier League history. In the second half, Sherwood’s away side came out a much better side. Alan Hutton, who was playing in an unfamiliar left-back position, curled wide from a good position in front of a rowdy bunch of away fans.
Long could have grabbed himself a hat-trick on the hour mark but his weak volley was easily saved by Given following a good cross from the impressive Pelle. Villa kept hanging on as Maya Yoshida rose highest to meet James Ward-Prowse’s superb corner but Given made a stunning diving save to push the ball away.
Nathaniel Clyne is in the middle of contract talks with the home side, and could have helped his cause when he leapt onto Mane’s cross but failed to hit the target from a great position. It didn’t matter though as Southampton scored a sixth and possibly the best of the lot.
Mane and Long combined together with a beautiful one-two before the hat-trick hero squared across to Pelle, who easily slammed past Given to the joy of Koeman and his players.
Villa managed to make a few chances in the final few minutes thanks to the lively Gabriel Agbonlahor coming on as a substitute. Hutton’s low cross found Villa’s highest Premier League goalscorer in the penalty area, but Paulo Gazzaniga made a great save to keep the striker out.
Villa’s Premier League safety was confirmed later in the day thanks to other results, while Southampton will be hoping a Villa FA Cup win will not happen as it would take their Europa League spot away from them.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)