The scoreline shows a modest win, but the Saints completely dominated an awful Fulham outfit who struggled to get out of their own half for long periods, with the hosts' energy and passing leaving Martin Jol's men unable to compete.
The game got off to a fairly dull start, mostly bogged down in midfield, but the powerful duo of Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama soon turned the screw and began to win the battle, allowing Southampton to pass and probe around their opponents' area.
Rickie Lambert found a deserved breakthrough on the twenty-minute mark, creeping away from a corner to the back post to plant a deflected ball into the roof of the net with a well-guided close-range header. The big England striker almost doubled his side's lead shortly afterwards after finding space on the edge of the area to curl a low, creeping effort around Maarten Stekelenburg which struck the outside of the post.
Lambert soon turned provider too, deservedly helping his side to a second by heading a fine ball back across the area for the lurking Jay Rodriguez to nod home from close range.
Martin Jol's rather uninspiring solution at half-time - to replace Sascha Riether with Aaron Hughes - was never likely to provide much impetus for a comeback, and so it proved as the hosts continued to be in complete control of the game.
Jay Rodriguez looked in the mood, and had one acrobatic effort as he scissor-kicked a cross go narrowly wide before dribbling from the halfway line past the entire Fulham defence only to run out of steam as he got into the area. Yet for all Southampton failed to find a third, Fulham still offered absolutely nothing, the home fans "Ole"ing every pass after just 60 minutes.
It proved to be a fairly tame end to a game that, while dull, has pretty large implications for both sides. Southampton looked like a very, very solid side more than worth their lofty league position, while Fulham look in real danger - if they are as toothless again as they were today then Jol surely hasn't got much time left.