Anders Svensson's two goals went way beyond taking Southampton to their biggest away win in the Premiership era yesterday. The victorylifted Gordon Strachan's side out of the relegation zone, induced near apoplexy at Filbert Street and will be sure to concentrate minds further afield than the respective team's dressing rooms.
The Swedish international midfielder's contribution – he joined James Beattie and Marian Pahars on the visitors' scoresheet – keeps him on course for a place in Sweden's World Cup starting XI. Sven Goran Eriksson, whose England side open their campaign next summer against the Swedes on 2 June, will no doubt be asking for a video.
The significance of the display was not lost on Strachan. "If Anders scores the winning goal against England next summer, he never has to do any hard running ever again," the ever-patriotic Scot said. Regarding the Saints' victory, he added: "It's a welcome change in fortunes. We had the cutting edge in the 18-yard box. We have been making chances before today but the difference this afternoon is that we took them. Overall I am happy with what we are doing."
Strachan's counterpart, Dave Bassett, was scathing in his assessment of his own charges. "We are a snakes and ladders team," he said. "You go up the ladder, like winning 2-0 at Aston Villa last week, and then you find a bleedin' great snake to slide back down again. Now I can see where Leicester's history comes from. I wish I could say that one of my players played well but they didn't. The man of the match for us was Trevor Benjamin and that's because he didn't get on the pitch."
Southampton also had a striker who did not get as far as the pitch – Brett Ormerod, their new £1.75m signing from Blackpool. Strachan insisted that he had not been purchased to "kick our strikers up the backside. He's with us to take the pressure off the strikers". His presence certainly seemed to make those who started the match lift their game, albeit against opponents demonstrably lacking in either confidence or conviction.
Pahars was lively from the off, setting up Beattie in the first minute only to see the shot go over. The opener, in the 12th minute, was a delight. Pahars flicked on a long ball to Svensson, who used one deft touch with his head to bamboozle Frank Sinclair before he hammered a volley past Ian Walker.
Paul Jones in the Southampton goal then made several fine saves either side of half-time, and Ade Akinbiyi was guilty of three woeful misses before the lead was increased with 27 minutes remaining. Pahars scampered down the left and rattled in a cross which Beattie, steaming into the box, met on the edge of the six-yard area.
Bassett replaced Akinbiyi within moments to give Brian Deane his debut but Southampton, by now buoyed with the confidence that a two-goal cushion brings, were thoroughly composed and well in charge of the match. They added their third goal in the 73rd minute after Paul Telfer's shot took a deflection off a defender and fell to Svensson, who took full advantage of the easy chance. The fourth fell to Pahars a minute from time after another cross from the right.
Leicester City 0
Svensson 12, 75, Beattie 64, Pahars 90
Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 20,321Reuse content