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Long bags his 12th goal of the season and Irish teen makes PL debut in Saints win

The Southampton striker scored his sixth league goal in seven appearances while Dusan Tadic got two in their victory over Aston Villa.

Long is having a fine season in front of goal.
Long is having a fine season in front of goal.

Updated at 17.30 

ASTON VILLA SUFFERED a 10th successive Premier League defeat as a double from Dusan Tadic helped Southampton to a 4-2 win over the hapless relegated club.

Tadic twice added to Shane Long’s opener for the Saints as Villa’s shambolic defending made life easy for Ronald Koeman’s side, who added a fourth goal in stoppage time through substitute Sadio Mane.

Ashley Westwood scored twice for Villa to draw them within a single goal of their visitors on two occasions at Villa Park.

But that was not enough to silence the angry home fans, who booed their players, called for the departure of owner Randy Lerner and bombarded the pitch with paper planes on another day of dissent.

Villa are now just one loss away from equalling a grim club record of 11 in a row, set in the 1962-63 season.

Villa should have been behind in the second minute courtesy of some comical defending.

Micah Richards, who was restored to the team at centre-back, totally missed a header, Joleon Lescott failed to make a challenge and Long hit the bar with the goal at his mercy.

But it was merely a temporary reprieve for Villa, who were behind on 15 minutes as Southampton scored the simplest of goals.

Ryan Bertrand’s cross from the left found Long, who ghosted away from the flat-footed Lescott and planted an unmarked header past the helpless Brad Guzan in the Villa goal for his sixth Premier League goal in seven appearances.

The 29-year-old has now scored nine goals in the top-flight this campaign and is now just one more away from reaching double figures in the Premier League for the first time.

Long has rediscovered his goalscoring touch of late after struggling with injury and his fine form will be music to the ears of Martin O’Neill with Euro 2016 just around the corner.

Villa had the chance to draw level on 22 minutes when Alan Hutton found space on the right and crossed for Leandro Bacuna, but he headed wide of the target.

The visitors thought they had doubled their lead 12 minutes before half-time when the ball broke for Long and he finished coolly past Guzan.

But the Tipperary man’s celebrations were cut short as the officials correctly ruled out his effort for offside.

Villa ought to have levelled the scores eight minutes before the break after Hutton powered through midfield and fed Bacuna to his right.

Bacuna’s cross found Westwood, but he fired straight at visiting goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

The Saints doubled their lead on 39 minutes as Villa imploded again.

Bacuna’s awful pass was intercepted by Long, who outpaced Lescott and although Guzan blocked the ball at Long’s feet, he managed to tee up Tadic to make it 2-0.

Villa reduced the arrears out of the blue just before the interval when the visitors failed to clear Jordan Ayew’s cross from the left and it broke for Westwood, who scored from 10 yards.

19-year-old Irish defender Kevin Toner was brought on as a half-time substitute for Villa to make his Premier League debut.

Aston Villa v Southampton - Barclays Premier League - Villa Park Southampton's Dusan Tadic and Meath native Kevin Toner of Aston Villa. Source: Paul Harding

Villa threatened briefly to equalise when Aly Cissokho advanced down the left and crossed for half-time substitute Rudy Gestede, but his header looped over the bar.

But with 19 minutes remaining, the visitors killed off any hopes of a Villa comeback when they scored their third goal.

A poor pass from Idrissa Gueye triggered a counter-attack for the Saints, Long’s pace forced Lescott to backpedal and the defender’s failure to make a challenge allowed long to tee up Tadic for the simplest of finishes.

Westwood then added his and Villa’s second with five minutes remaining as the visitors only half-cleared a corner and the midfielder scored from long-range.

But after Long had hit the side-netting, Mane made no mistake in stoppage time as he arrived unmarked to nod home a Cedric Soares cross.

 – AFP 2016

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