Rickie Lambert is spot on for Southampton as his penalty helps sink Aston Villa
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 12/01/13 11:47pm
Paul Lambert suffered yet more misery as his Aston Villa side dropped into the bottom three after suffering a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton.
Saints leapfrogged their opponents and into 15th place after recording their first win in five matches and only their second away win of the season thanks to skipper Rickie Lambert.
Best of the Match
- Man of the match: Rickie Lambert not only scored the winner, but he was immense for the Saints all afternoon with a captain's performance.
- Goal of the match: There was only one and Lambert was spot on from 12-yards too. He still hasn't missed a penalty! He must have done his homework watching Matt Le Tissier as a youngster.
- Save of the match: A brilliant reflex save as Artur Boruc denied Enda Stevens with a vicious left-foot strike from the edge of the area.
- Controversy of the match: Stand-in referee Mark Halsey handed the visitors a penalty despite replays appearing to show Stevens made little to no contact on Jay Rodriguez.
- Stat of the match: After losing eight of their first 10 Premier League matches, Southampton have now lost just twice in their last 11.
- Talking point: Villa are now in the Premier League bottom three. Where does manager Paul Lambert go with his young side from here?
The decisive moment in the game was tinged with controversy as Enda Stevens appeared to make little contact challenging Jay Rodriguez in the penalty area but Mark Halsey was in little doubt as he pointed to the spot.
Lambert made no mistake from 12 yards, scoring his ninth Premier League goal of the campaign and his 97th goal in 179 games. The striker also maintained his 100 per cent career record from the spot - a perfect 29 out of 29.
Villa boss Lambert brought on Barry Bannan for Brett Holman at the start of the second period and his side showed more purpose.
Artur Boruc parried Andreas Weimann's left-footed effort and then Christian Benteke hooked the ball over the bar after the 'keeper had denied Stevens.
Brad Guzan was relieved when Jason Puncheon crashed a fierce low drive against the near post.
Villa then staged a late rally as Boruc kept out Benteke's towering header.
The Pole was powerless to stop Nathan Baker's header but it crashed against the crossbar from Bannan's corner.
Benteke then shot wide after Boruc had bravely saved at the feet of Gabriel Agbonlahor as the Saints survived to seal all three points and complete a league double over their opponents.
The harsh reality is Villa have now taken only one point from their last five league games and look set for a season-long battle to stay up. It completed a miserable week after the Capital One Cup semi-final, first leg setback at Bradford.
Saints have now collected 17 points from their last 11 games - a sharp contrast to losing eight of their initial 10 games back in the top flight.
Barclays Premier League
|8||West Ham United||26||39|
|14||West Bromwich Albion||26||27|
|17||Queens Park Rangers||26||22|