Aston Villa recovered from their defeat to Burnley in midweek by beating Southampton 1-0 at St. Mary’s, with Ross Barkley making the difference for Dean Smith’s side.
The Saints thought they’d won a penalty in the first half, when Stuart Armstrong’s shot cannoned off Matty Cash’s outstretched arm, but VAR unbelievably did not decide to intervene, and play continued.
Southampton continued to dominate the opening stages but couldn’t find a way through their opponents’ defence. Villa striker Ollie Watkins came close on a couple of occasions for the visitors, and Jack Grealish began to cause plenty of problems down the left-hand side.
And it was loanee Ross Barkley who broke the deadlock on 40 minutes, racing onto Grealish’s delicious floated cross and heading the ball back across the goalkeeper and into the net.
Southampton were rocked by Villa’s opener, and failed to forge any sort of response before the referee blew the half-time whistle, bringing an exciting 45 minutes to a close.
The second half was equally entertaining, as Southampton continued to push for an equaliser. Emi Martinez was called into some drastic action to keep out Che Adams, and Cash also threw himself into the line of fire to keep the forward at bay.
Nathan Redmond fired over the crossbar via a deflection from just inside the penalty area on 83 minutes to waste another wonderful opportunity. Martinez made another great save to deny Jan Bednarek from the resulting corner, and Cash was on hand once again to stop Jack Stephens’ effort on the line.
Southampton were awarded six minutes of stoppage time to try and find a way through Villa’s stubborn defence, and they thought they had finally beaten the Argentine shot-stopper in the 93rd minute.
Danny Ings bundled the ball over the line and wheeled away in celebration, but the goal was pulled back for an offside infringement in the buildup. It appeared to be another extremely harsh decision against the hosts, but the linesman’s call stood, and the visitors snatched all three points.