Guly double act for leaders spoils Boro's record

Southampton 3 Middlesbrough 0

They are fond of their South Americans down on the South Coast. Gus Poyet, one of Uruguay's finest, is ensconced at Brighton. At the top of the Championship, a place the Sea-gulls briefly occupied at the start of this season, Southampton have Guly Do Prado, whose two first-half goals settled this game.

A striker who could redefine the term journeyman, Guly is Brazilian, from the state of Sao Paulo. Like hundreds of his compatriots each year, he left his homeland early in his career, seeking better-quality football, flatter pitches and more money. As he made his way, he even played at the equivalent of non-League level in Italy.

Southampton picked him up in the summer of 2010, and despite his assured performance yesterday he has not had an entirely smooth time at St Mary's. In fact he has hardly had a smooth time anywhere. Saints are his eighth club in nine years.

He has admitted that a year ago, when on loan from Cesena, he might have returned to Italy because of the weather. But he stuck it out, signed a permanent deal in January, and has six goals to his name so far this season.

Yet while Guly, who will be 30 on New Year's Eve, took his chances well, he was not the only Southampton playerwho stood out. Danny Butterfield, Jack Cork and Richard Chaplow all deserve a mention.

Prior to kick-off Middlesbrough had conceded the fewest goals away from home in the League, and so this should have been a much tighter contest. Instead, Southampton have a rather special statistic of their own. They have now won all nine games at home this season in the League and Carling Cup, and should have been out of sight by half-time. By then Guly could have had a hat-trick, but his flick after 36 minutes came back off the post.

Still, by then the damage had been done, starting after 15 minutes. Butterfield hit a blade-of-grass-perfect cross to the far post and Guly buried his header past Jason Steele.

Middlesbrough's left-back, Justin Hoyte, was failing to pick up the danger, and his team were exposed again after 29 minutes when Adam Lallana picked out Rickie Lambert. He in turn crossed to Guly, who stooped to head past Steele.

Nigel Adkins was delighted with what he saw. The Southampton manager said: "We've played some good football this season, and to win 3-0 is very pleasing. We created some really good opportunities."

Scott McDonald could have revived Boro's hopes at the end of the first half but hit the side- netting, and Nigel Adkins' side eventually found the third goal they deserved when Chaplow picked out the substitute David Connolly 10 minutes from time.

That goal capped a 26-pass move, as Adkins was not slow to point out. It was almost like watching Brazil.

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Butterfield, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Chaplow, Cork, Hammond (De Ridder, 83), Lallana (Schneiderlin, 73); Lambert, Guly (Connolly, 56).

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Steele; McMahon (Zemmama, 73), Bates, Williams, Hoyte; Robson, Bailey, Arca (Haroun, 63), Bennett; Emnes, McDonald (Nimely, 63).

Referee Roger East.

Man of the match Chaplow (Southampton).

Match rating 7/10.