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Watford 0-1 Southampton: Che Adams goal gives Saints first Premier League away win in eight months

Southampton ended a dismal streak away from home in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon with a vital 1-0 win at Watford.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team arrived here having won just one of their last 17 road outings in the top flight, returning to three points at Sheffield United in March, and had only one win all season.

So against a team that scored five last weekend, this was a seismic win and performance. They defended as if their lives depended on it and should have had more than Che Adams goal in the first half.

Che Adams scored his first Premier League goal of the season when Southampton beat Watford

Che Adams scored his first Premier League goal of the season when Southampton beat Watford

The Scottish forward had not scored in the Premier League since scoring against Fulham in May

The Scottish forward had not scored in the Premier League since scoring against Fulham in May

The Scottish forward had not scored in the Premier League since scoring against Fulham in May

Watford had the best early opportunity here, last week’s hero Josh King found space in the penalty area but failed to connect with Joao Pedro’s effervescent center.

But Southampton soon asserted control and gave this game the feel of a title-seeking team hosting a relegation-threatened team. They camped in the Watford half, dominating possession, while allowing Watford nothing except counterattacks.

The Saints took the lead in 20 minutes somehow, after Adams reacted faster to a loose pass from Adam Armstrong, spun to square the goal and unleashed a deft shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

It was his 15th goal for Southampton in his 86th appearance. Since arriving from Birmingham, he has not been as prolific as the club had hoped.

The Saints' victory at Vicarage Road was their first in the Premier League this season.

The Saints' victory at Vicarage Road was their first in the Premier League this season.

The Saints’ victory at Vicarage Road was their first in the Premier League this season.

MATCH FACTS AND CLASSIFICATIONS

Watford (4-4-1-1): Foster 6; Ngakia 6 (Fletcher 82), Troost-Ekong 6, Masina 5, Cathcart 6; Sarr 6, Sissoko 6, Kucka 6, Hernandez 5 (Cleverley 46, 6); Joao Pedro 6 (Sema 46, 6); King 5

Unused subs: Bachmann, Rosa, Nkoulou, Louza, Gosling, Tufan

Manager: Claudio Ranieri 6

Reserved: Joao Pedro, Kucka

Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy 7.5; Livramento 7, Bednarek 6, Salisu 7, Walker-Peters 7.5; Redmond 5, Ward-Prowse 7 (Diallo 79), Romeu 6.5 (Lyanco 90), Elyounoussi 6 (S Armstrong 70, 6); Adams 7, A Armstrong 7.5.

Unused subs: Forster, Perraud, Valery, Tella, Long, Walcott

Scorers: Adams (20)

Reserved: Salisu, Ward-Prowse

Manager: Ralph Hasenhüttl

However, this was certainly a target of the month candidate, and it is not the first time.

A great goal scorer more than a great goal scorer, perhaps, with a certain long distance balloon against Manchester City also comes to mind a couple of seasons ago.

But despite all the territorial advantage, Watford looked dangerous when venturing forward with pace.

Ismaila Sarr found room on the right flank and deftly got into Alex McCarthy’s near post only to be repelled by Kyle Walker-Peters’ rear on the line.

Vicarage Road collectively stood up to celebrate a draw, but referee Peter Bankes took a prolonged glance at his watch and did not dictate any goals, thanks to the help of goal line technology.

At the other end, Adams really should have doubled his tally by the day Armstrong hit him with a perfect cross, but the forward headed for the ground and the ball bounced off the crossbar.

The clinic in front of goal continued to go poorly for the Saints, with Armstrong close twice.

The summer buy scored 28 goals for a relatively average Blackburn last season, second on the top scorers list behind record-breaking Ivan Toney.

So far, he’s struggling to do it consistently in the top flight.

Ismaila Sarr was close to equalizing but his shot was judged as not crossing the line

Ismaila Sarr was close to equalizing but his shot was judged as not crossing the line

Ismaila Sarr was close to equalizing but his shot was judged as not crossing the line

Claudio Ranieri has lost both games at Vicarage Road since taking over at Watford

Claudio Ranieri has lost both games at Vicarage Road since taking over at Watford

Claudio Ranieri has lost both games at Vicarage Road since taking over at Watford

Armstrong remained the center of all the good in the second half and could have scored had it not been for a tough defense.

The game was much more even as time progressed, with Claudio Ranieri’s double substitution and line-up change at halftime clearly paying its dividends.

But they fought in front of goal and created next to nothing, largely thanks to a well-drilled four-defense unit that features two young gems in full defense.

“It’s magical, you know, Valentino Livramento,” sang the visiting final on the right-back who has garnered rave reviews so far this season. This was his 10th straight start, the only teenager other than Micah Richards and Phil Jones in this millennium to start a season on such a streak.

On the other side was Walker-Peters, who added to his crucial punt from the goal line in the first half with a flurry of attacking runs and poisonous crosses from the left wing.

Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his team from Southampton climb to 14th place in the table with the victory

Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his team from Southampton climb to 14th place in the table with the victory

Ralph Hasenhuttl saw his team from Southampton climb to 14th place in the table with the victory

More importantly, the 24-year-old was much more than an attacking threat, as he pocketed Watford’s star man Sarr and allowed him no more visions of goal.

In the 88th minute, her defense was apparently finally breached, with substitute Ashley Fletcher finding space in a packed penalty area.

He shot low and hard, but goalie McCarthy went down exceptionally well and hit the ball around the post.

It turned out to be a winning save. And what three important points for Southampton.

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