Nathan Redmond’s first top-flight double in two years drove Southampton to the brink of Premier League safety with a 3-1 win over Wolves.
The 25-year-old’s brace sent Saints eight points clear of relegation favourites Cardiff, with Shane Long adding a third for the impressive hosts.
Willy Boly’s header had Wolves level at 1-1 but only for 118 seconds, as Redmond notched his second to stun the nonplussed Molineux men.
Former Birmingham forward Redmond twisted the knife on old Midlands rivals Wolves with a virtuoso performance to delight his manager Ralph Hasenhuttl.
The demanding St Mary’s boss recently admitted he had warned Redmond to adjust his attitude when he arrived as boss on the south coast in December.
The lively forward’s first league double since Saints’ 4-3 win at Watford in March 2017 has cemented a return to top form.
Redmond’s reversal of fortunes has mirrored that of Saints, who have built steadily under the taskmaster Austrian coach Hasenhuttl.
Saints had claimed just three wins in 22 Premier League games when Mark Hughes was dismissed in December – but now Hasenhuttl has presided over eight victories in just 18 league outings.
FULL-TIME Southampton 3-1 Wolves
A potentially HUGE three points for the Saints - goals from Nathan Redmond (2) and Shane Long seal the win after Willy Boly had equalised for the visitors#SOUWOL #PL pic.twitter.com/pMKnFfd3vu— Premier League (@premierleague) April 13, 2019
The former RB Leipzig boss pledged to “leave my footprints in the snow” on his arrival, and with his St Mary’s transformation he has already stamped his authority on the Premier League.
Academy graduate Josh Sims laid on the first goal in a fine showing, another to benefit hugely from the Hasenhuttl factor.
The 22-year-old could not even break into Reading’s team and was sent back from his loan spell in January. But Hasenhuttl has worked on Sims’ tactical acumen and his aggression – and on his first league start of the season, the homegrown talent delivered in spades.
Southampton’s breakneck start yielded immediate dividend.
Sims raced round the back to deliver an inviting ball that allowed Redmond to sneak in front of the cover and blast into the net.
Wolves were in no mood to surrender however, with Leander Dendoncker nodding wide before Ruben Neves saw a dangerous strike deflected.
Boly made no mistake from Joao Moutinho’s corner though, dispatching a thumping header to drag the visitors level.
Not the result we wanted but your support was fantastic this afternoon. A safe trip home to all returning from St Mary's.April 13, 2019
Hasenhuttl’s Saints might still be porous but always boast a puncher’s chance, and Sims’ one-two combination with Ings helped floor Wolves again.
This time Sims fed Ings for a smart flick to set Redmond haring free, and the former Birmingham man dinked a sumptuous finish past the stranded Rui Patricio.
Sharper finishing could even have snared two goals for Sims himself, with the 22-year-old twice played in before the break, only to miscue both efforts towards goal.
Hasenhuttl’s proved his sharp management again when withdrawing both Ings and Sims early in the second-half.
Ings appeared to have picked up a minor leg complaint, while Sims looked slightly sluggish.
Oriol Romeu’s arrival allowed James Ward-Prowse to push higher up the field however, adding extra stability, and Long’s pace pushed Wolves deeper.
Long then notched his second goal in as many games to kill the tie, flicking home from Maya Yoshida’s cute pass.
- Press Association