Premier League
Southampton1Middlesbrough0

Southampton 1-0 Middlesbrough

Sofiane Boufal
Sofiane Boufal's only previous Southampton goal came in a 1-0 win over Sunderland in the last 16 of the EFL Cup in October

Sofiane Boufal scored his first Premier League goal as his spectacular strike from 25 yards gave Southampton a win over Middlesbrough.

Boufal, who joined the Saints for a club record fee of £16m from Lille in August, collected the ball from James Ward-Prowse before blasting past Boro goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Viktor Fischer had the visitors' best chance but his shot was blocked on the goalline by Jose Fonte.

The result takes Southampton up to 10th in the table, while Middlesbrough are 16th, only three points above the relegation zone.

Puel's rotation pays off

How Southampton rotate their squad in a hectic period is going to be one of the biggest challenges Claude Puel has faced so far during his spell in charge.

The Saints were playing their 24th game of the season, and their third of seven in December with a minimum of seven more matches to come in January.

Puel made eight changes from the side that drew 1-1 against Hapoel Be'er Sheva in the Europa League on Thursday, a result that meant they were eliminated from the competition.

Midfielder Sam McQueen and forward Jay Rodriguez were both making their second Premier League starts of the season, while Boufal and Cuco Martina had only previously started five league games between them in 2016-17.

But the gambles paid off with the Saints returning to the top half with a well deserved victory.

Indeed, the winning margin could have been bigger, but Rodriguez had a header cleared off the line and shot over the bar from close range late on.

Boro's attacking problems continue

Opta
This graphic shows Middlesbrough's struggles up front. The green arrows represent shots on target, with one from Jordan Rhodes (number nine) and one from Viktor Fischer (11), while the red arrow shows Rhodes' long-range effort that went well wide

For Middlesbrough, their problems in front of goal continue and their tally of 13 goals from 15 games is the worst in the division.

With joint top scorer Alvaro Negredo and Gaston Ramirez, who scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Hull on Monday, both injured, Jordan Rhodes started a Premier League match for only the second time.

However, Rhodes only created one chance, a low shot from a tight angle which home goalkeeper Fraser Forster comfortably saved with his legs.

That effort was one of only two shots on target for the visitors in the whole match, with none coming in the second half.

Boro's only other opportunity came when Fischer, still without a Boro goal in 11 appearances since joining from Ajax in the summer, went round Forster but his shot was blocked by Fonte.

Middlesbrough boss Aitor Karanka's hopes of keeping his club in the Premier League and avoiding an instant return to the Championship could depend on whether he can bolster his attacking options in January.

Man of the match - Sofiane Boufal (Southampton)

Sofiane Boufal
The Morocco international needed knee surgery in May, and did not make his Southampton debut until late October, but has now started their last two Premier League matches

The stats: Premier League landmark for Southampton

  • Boufal's goal was the Saints' 500th home goal in the Premier League, with 256 coming at their previous home The Dell and 244 at St Mary's
  • Southampton had not won a Premier League home game against Middlesbrough since winning 4-0 in September 1996
  • This was the first Premier League game between the two sides since March 2005, when Saints won 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium
  • This defeat was only Middlesbrough's second away league loss this season, although they have drawn five of their eight matches on the road

What they said

Southampton manager Claude Puel: "In the first half we did not play with good fluency, but in the second half we were always strong and had good quality on the pitch. We changed the system and it was a very good second half and we deserved other goals.

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Southampton 1-0 Middlesbrough: Claude Puel praises Sofiane Boufal 'quality'

"It is an important result after the disappointment of the squad [going out of the Europa League]. The three points are very important and it is always important after a disappointment to win the next game and we showed good character."

On match-winner Boufal: "He is a fantastic player - his qualities are fantastic. He can become an important player for the squad."

On the future of club captain Jose Fonte: "Now is not the moment [to discuss that]. It is the time to stay concentrated until the end of the year. The importance is the collective of the squad."

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka: "We did almost everything, I can't say anything about the players. We kept working but in the Premier League you have to score your chances.

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Southampton 1-0 Middlesbrough

"We finished the first half well and I said we had to keep that intensity but they started the second half better than us. We're improving and growing, especially in defence."

On the injured Negredo and Ramirez: "It would be easy to say we missed them but we win and lose as a team and I am happy with the players who played."

What's next?

Both sides are back in Premier League action on Wednesday, with Middlesbrough at home to Liverpool (19:45 GMT) and Southampton away at Stoke City (20:00 GMT).

Line-ups

Southampton

  • 1Forster
  • 15Martina
  • 6FonteBooked at 55mins
  • 17van Dijk
  • 38McQueen
  • 4ClasieSubstituted forLongat 85'minutes
  • 14RomeuBooked at 58mins
  • 16Ward-Prowse
  • 11TadicBooked at 22minsSubstituted forRedmondat 45'minutes
  • 9Rodriguez
  • 19BoufalBooked at 45minsSubstituted forDavisat 73'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Yoshida
  • 7Long
  • 8Davis
  • 18Reed
  • 21Bertrand
  • 22Redmond
  • 28Taylor

Middlesbrough

  • 26Valdés
  • 17BarragánBooked at 17mins
  • 25Chambers
  • 6Gibson
  • 2Fabio
  • 34ForshawBooked at 52mins
  • 8ClaytonBooked at 80mins
  • 14de Roon
  • 18StuaniSubstituted forTraoréat 81'minutes
  • 9Rhodes
  • 11Fischer

Substitutes

  • 5Bernardo
  • 7Leadbitter
  • 12Guzan
  • 19Downing
  • 24Nsue
  • 35Nugent
  • 37Traoré
Referee:
Stuart Attwell
Attendance:
28,976

Match Stats

Home TeamSouthamptonAway TeamMiddlesbrough
Possession
Home55%
Away45%
Shots
Home14
Away6
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home4
Away2
Fouls
Home14
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, Southampton 1, Middlesbrough 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Southampton 1, Middlesbrough 0.

Attempt missed. Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) right footed shot from very close range is just a bit too high. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

Foul by Jay Rodriguez (Southampton).

Fabio (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Antonio Barragán.

Substitution

Substitution, Southampton. Shane Long replaces Jordy Clasie.

Attempt blocked. Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) header from very close range is blocked. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Víctor Valdés.

Substitution

Substitution, Middlesbrough. Adama Traoré replaces Cristhian Stuani.

Booking

Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jordy Clasie (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Attempt missed. Steven Davis (Southampton) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Cuco Martina with a cross.

Substitution

Substitution, Southampton. Steven Davis replaces Sofiane Boufal.

Attempt blocked. Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Viktor Fischer.

Foul by Sofiane Boufal (Southampton).

Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Middlesbrough. Adam Forshaw tries a through ball, but Fabio is caught offside.

Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Adam Clayton (Middlesbrough).

Foul by José Fonte (Southampton).

Jordan Rhodes (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jordy Clasie (Southampton).

Viktor Fischer (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Jay Rodriguez (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough).

Foul by Jay Rodriguez (Southampton).

Calum Chambers (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Booking

Oriol Romeu (Southampton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Oriol Romeu (Southampton).

Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Offside, Southampton. Cuco Martina tries a through ball, but Jay Rodriguez is caught offside.

Booking

José Fonte (Southampton) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by José Fonte (Southampton).

Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Goal!

Goal! Southampton 1, Middlesbrough 0. Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) left footed shot from outside the box to the top left corner. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse.

Booking

Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough).

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Chelsea15121233112237
2Arsenal15104136152134
3Liverpool1594237201731
4Man City1593332191330
5Tottenham1576224111327
6Man Utd156632016424
7Watford156362126-521
8West Brom155552018220
9Everton155551919020
10Southampton155551415-120
11Stoke155461722-519
12Bournemouth155372125-418
13Burnley155281525-1017
14Leicester154472126-516
15Crystal Palace154382729-215
16Middlesbrough153661316-315
17West Ham153481731-1413
18Swansea153391931-1212
19Hull153391432-1812
20Sunderland1532101427-1311
View full Premier League table

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