Southampton 6 Aston Villa 1
Sadio Mane netted the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history as Southampton boosted their hopes of European qualification with a remarkable victory against Aston Villa.
Saints have made a mockery of those predicting a season of strife at St Mary’s, with Ronald Koeman not only steering the club to calmer waters but new heights after replacing high-profile departures with some wily acquisitions.
Mane, a £10 million signing from Red Bull Salzburg, was among them and underlined his qualities with a record-breaking treble against Aston Villa, setting Southampton on course for a memorable 6-1 win.
The Senegal international’s treble was wrapped up in two minutes and 56 seconds - the quickest in Premier League history, beating the record of four minutes and 33 seconds set by Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler in 1994 against Arsenal.
The hat-trick was part of an incredible first half, in which fellow summer signing Shane Long continued by slotting home from close range before hitting an incredible 40-yard effort to put Saints five up inside 38 minutes.
Christian Benteke pulled one back on the stroke of half-time with an exceptional header, but that did not save Tim Sherwood’s FA Cup finalists trudging off at half-time to a chorus of boos.
Villa, who would have ensured survival with a win, improved after the break but were unable to keep Saints at bay, with Graziano Pelle volleying home to take Saints to 60 points – their best-ever Premier League return.