Stoke City 1-2 Southampton

Graziano Pelle

Southampton have scored 12 headed goals this season – more than any other Premier League side

Graziano Pelle scored twice as Southampton held on for victory in the Premier League against Stoke.

Italian Pelle, who had not scored in his previous 12 league games, netted twice in the first half through a flicked header and a low finish.

Stoke got back into the game early in the second half when Marko Arnautovic flicked in from close range.

James Ward-Prowse hit the crossbar for the visitors as substitute Sadio Mane was dismissed for an elbow late on.

The Saints climb above their opponents into seventh place in the table, just five points adrift of West Ham in fifth.

Relive the match from the Britannia Stadium

Saints relieved questionable refereeing did not cost them

Southampton went into the match on the back of three winless games which had threatened to hurt their ambitions of claiming a Europa League spot.

They grabbed the three points at the Britannia Stadium on the back of a counter-attacking display having managed just 38.6% possession.

Pelle was the match-winner with his two strikes in the opening period, but they will be thankful two refereeing decisions did not cost them.

Dusan Tadic, who failed to shoot from seven yards out at an open goal in the first half, was clearly tripped in the box by Stoke keeper Jack Butland, but the Serbian’s appeal for a penalty was waved away by referee Lee Mason.

And in stoppage time, Mane mistimed a jump for a header having kept his eyes on the ball, catching full-back Erik Pieters, which Mason deemed to be a straight red. They have now had six players sent off this campaign, more than any other side.

Stoke searched for the equaliser but could not find a way past the solid Virgil van Dijk, who made 17 clearances in the match.

Wayward finishing costs Stoke

Stoke had won three and drawn one of their previous four games but came unstuck after failing to keep their composure in the attacking third of the pitch.

They failed to work goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the first half and although Austrian Arnautovic gave them hope by netting with a neat finish and forcing the big Englishman into a smart save, those efforts were their only two on target.

The Potters failed to do the homework on their opponents, who scored their 12th headed goal this season – more than any other top-flight side.

Although record signing Giannelli Imbula influenced the game, having more touches (114) and more passes (91) than any player on the pitch, it was their profligacy up front which cost them the points.

Stoke have now lost six league games in front of their own crowd this season and their hopes of clinching a Europa League spot now look slim.

More to follow.

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