Hassenhuttl overjoyed with Saints reaction to poor start

·2-min read

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Southampton have done an impressive job of bouncing back from their opening two Premier League defeats to break into the top four after Sunday's 4-3 win at Aston Villa, manager Ralph Hassenhuttl said.

Having suffered a 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace and a 5-2 home drubbing by Tottenham Hotspur, the Saints quickly turned around their fortunes by winning four of their next five games.

That run included a 3-3 draw at an expensively assembled Chelsea where Jannik Vestergaard, one of the scorers at Villa Park, netted a stoppage time equaliser.

"The first two games at the start of the season were a disaster," Austrian Hassenhuttl told the BBC.

"But we showed a good reaction and now we play how we should. It’s good to see how the guys are developing. It’s a good message from the boys."

James Ward-Prowse curled in a pair of free kicks on his 26th birthday after setting up Vestergaard's opener, and Danny Ings made it 4-0 near the hour mark before Villa took advantage as Southampton eased off.

Tyrone Mings pulled one back before Ollie Watkins and Jack Grealish netted in stoppage time for the home side as the Saints were given a timely reminder that there was no room for complacency at this level.

Hassenhuettl praised his team for a ruthless performance in the opening hour but made it clear he was unhappy with his men for taking their foot off the pedal late on.

"We played against a very strong side today," he said.

"We had a fantastic first half. In the second, mentally it was difficult. You concede the first, then you look at the time and you stop playing. This is always dangerous.

"In the end I think it’s a good win, not a lot of teams will win here."

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Hugh Lawson)