By Dave Smith
RONALD Koeman believes his Saints can go marching on towards a European place if they can perform to such a high standard for 90 minutes – not 45.
Southampton blew Bournemouth off the park in the opening period and could have had more than the two goals provided by Steven Davis and Graziano Pelle.
But in what was definitely a classic ‘game of two halves Bournemouth raised their performance levels and might have earned a draw.
All the creativity was there from Bournemouth but they were missing the end product usually provided by the injured Callum Wilson.
Southampton were excellent for 45 minutes and moved up to seventh place – where they finished last season – and level on points with Liverpool.
Saints boss Koeman described their first half performance as ‘the best of the season so far’ but was disappointed with the second 45.
He gave credit to Bournemouth though for the way they fought back, and he has great respect for the work Eddie Howe is doing just down the coast.
The Dutchman praised his players, and said on Sky Sports after the 2-0 win: “It was a fantastic first 45 minutes – the best we have played this season.
“You expect a reaction from your opponents in the second half, so that is when we have to be better and play with more control.
“We won the battle in the first half, but we didn’t win the battle in the second. If we continue to play like we did in the first 45 minutes though we will finish in a high position.”
Opposite number Howe was disappointed that his side created so few chances, but was pleased with the response of his players after a first half disaster.
Also on Sky Sports, he said: “The second half was everything we wanted the first half to be. Technically, we were very good but didn’t create enough chances.
“We could have defended better for their goals, but there are plenty of positives to take from this game and we move on.”