Southampton picked up a narrow 1-0 victory away at Hull City on Tuesday, with defender José Fonte netting the game's only goal halfway into the second half. It was a drab affair to say the least, though Southampton's little attacking invention was better than Hull's none, and they were duly rewarded with a scrappy winner.
Though it didn't last for long, Southampton did manage to get off to a pleasingly lively start to the match. Only some poor finishing in the area from Rickie Lambert prevented them from taking the lead inside the opening five minutes as Hull looked to sit back and defend.
Shane Long and Nikica Jelavić were left feeding off scraps up, though when Hull did venture forward, they almost immediately went one up. A deep cross from the right was glanced goalwards by the Irishman, though his header rebounded off the post before being screwed into the ground and over the bar by George Boyd.
Hull appeared to be growing in confidence as Southampton's initial dominance began to fade, though that didn't stop Jay Rodriguez cracking a brilliant effort against the crossbar from the edge of the area on the half-hour. Jelavić responded with an instinctive prod inside the Saints' area 10 minutes later, but Artur Boruc was on hand to tip the ball away.
Whatever sage words Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino spoke at halftime, they certainly worked. The Saints came out after the break with a renewed swagger, and would've gone into an early lead if not for some more underwhelming finishing from Lambert.
But despite their wastefulness, Southampton eventually capitalized on their dominance to break the deadlock. With just over 20 minutes remaining, an almighty goalmouth scramble culminated in José Fonte bundling the ball over the line for 1-0. It was an ugly goal, and a fitting winner to a rather unpleasant game.
Hull City: Harper; Figueroa (Brady 76'), Bruce, Davies, McShane (Boyd 12'); Meyler (Aluko 75'), Huddlestone, Livermore, Elmohamady; Long, Jelavić
Southampton: Boruc; Shaw, Yoshida, Fonte, Chambers; Schneiderlin, Cork; Rodriguez, Davis (Wanyama 90+3'), Lallana (Ward-Prowse 88'); Lambert (do Prado 77').
Goals: Fonte (69').