Dusan Tadic’s brace gave Southampton’s stuttering Premier League campaign lift-off with a comfortable 3-0 victory over promoted Norwich City at St Mary’s on Sunday.
After Graziano Pelle poked Southampton ahead in the 45th minute Tadic took over with an impressive display, scoring quick-fire goals midway through the second half to give the south-coast club their first victory of the season.
Norwich defender Steven Whittaker was dismissed having received two yellow cards within four first-half minutes for professional fouls.
“It’s always important to get the first win out of the way,” Southampton captain Jose Fonte told Sky Sports.
“We haven’t had the start we wanted in the league or European competitions but the most important thing today was getting back to winning games.
“We have massive responsibility now we are seen as a good team so we need to win and that’s the mentality we have to implant in every game.”
The surprise packages of last season having finished seventh, Southampton had been out-of-sorts, taking just two points from three games and failing to score since the opening day.
Sunday’s first half was a microcosm of Southampton’s season, plenty of possession and chances but a lack of killer instinct in front of goal.
James Ward-Prowse, Fonte, Pelle and the impressive Sadio Mane all went close in a dominant yet fruitless opening 20 minutes for the hosts.
Having weathered the early storm Norwich grew into the game and Cameron Jerome headed a glaring opportunity narrowly wide from point-blank range.
Whittaker, however, undermined their efforts after his dismissal with a block on Matt Targett followed 187 seconds later by a tug on the shirt of Tadic.
The hosts took advantage of their numerical advantage with Pelle beating Russel Martin to convert Mane’s cross just before halftime.
Jay Rodriguez, still making his way back from a long-term knee injury, was brought on after the break and was lively throughout, forcing John Ruddy into a number of saves.
Mane again was the catalyst and crossed for Tadic to lash home his first in the 64th minute before the Serbian converted from close range two minutes later after Ruddy had parried Pelle’s header.
Victory moved Southampton up to 10th with five points while Norwich sit one point adrift in 14th.