Football: Saintly Le Tissier

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The Independent Online
Southampton 4 .TX.- Le Tissier 19, 77, Monkou 39, Maddison 89

Aston Villa 1

Saunders 58

Attendance: 19,003

IT IS amazing what difference a little desire makes. Southampton dragged themselves out of the relegation places with this comfortable victory over la anguid Aston Villa yesterday, the Saints saved by a heavenly performance from Matthew Le Tissier, who scored twice and whose two corners provided the others. They now travel to Manchester United and West Ham needing probably three points to survive.

Villa did not come out of the game unscathed. Their impetuous reserve goalkeeper Nigel Spink was sent off with 10 minutes to go for charging headlong from his goal to fell Iain Dowie outside the area. It looked a fair decision.

Southampton deserve to survive. It would certainly be a shame for Le Tissier to grace anything but the highest table. He put Southampton in the lead after 20 minutes when Jeff Kenna, the Southampton full- back, showed more commitment in a 50-50 ball on the half- way line with Steve Staunton, and charged into the right edge of the area before clipping a curling low cross for the Guernsey born striker to tap home his 22nd goal of the season.

Paul McGrath, who has missed Villa's past seven games and was fined two weeks' wages this week for going absent without leave, looked well below par. He scowled at Spink after conceding an unnecessary corner after 38 minutes. Le Tissier delivered his trademark floater to the penalty spot where Ken Monkou headed into the ground and up into the top corner for 2-0. McGrath was substituted at half-time.

Dean Saunders looked Villa's most potent force, and he hustled the Southampton defender Simon Charlton into conceding an own goal that brought Villa back into the contest. Houghton put the ball through to Saunders, who had got goalside of Charlton in the six-yard box. As the Welshman shot, Charlton's challenge spun the ball wide of Dave Beasant.

Le Tissier quickly extinguished Villa's enthusiasm. On the edge of his area, Ugo Ehiogu stared at the sky as an innocuous high ball dropped. Le Tissier crept behind him, took the ball on his instep before it could bounce, dragged it past Spink and slotted it into an empty net. 'Genius,' Alan Ball said. He provided Maddison with the fourth, another headed corner, and three points that could save the Saints.