Southampton’s English striker Jay Rodriguez (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s third goal with Southampton’s English midfielder Nathan Redmond (C) and Southampton’s Danish midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Southampton at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on December 18, 2016.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP
Southampton forward Jay Rodriguez bagged a brace to inspire his side’s 3-1 win against local rivals Bournemouth on Sunday.
Rodriguez hadn’t scored in the Premier League since August but he ended that barren stretch with a second half double in the south coast derby at Dean Court.
Claude Puel’s team had fallen behind to Nathan Ake’s early opener, but Ryan Bertrand levelled soon after to set the stage for one of the better days in recent memory for the injury plagued Rodriguez.
Southampton’s second win in their last nine away league matches lifted them into seventh place, while Bournemouth remain in mid-table.
Just 33 miles separate these south coast rivals, but derbies between them have been few and far between.
The rariety of the fixture seemed to give extra intensity to both teams in a scintillating opening.
Eddie Howe’s side made the perfect start when on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere lofted a perfectly-weighted cross to the far corner, where Ake escaped his marker to plant a diving header past Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
Joshua King had a chance to increase Bournemouth’s lead with a powerful shot that Forster kicked away.
But Bournemouth were in front for only eight minutes as Saints left-back Bertrand equalised with a superb individual effort.
Twisting and turning on the left edge of the penalty area, Bertrand weaved through the Bournemouth defence before driving a blistering low strike into the far corner of Artur Boruc’s goal.
Puel sent on Steven Davis at half-time and the Northern Ireland midfielder played a key role as Southampton swept into the lead three minutes after the interval.
Sofiane Boufal’s backheel flick set Davis free and he surged into the penalty area before clipping a cross into the six-yard box for Rodriguez to score with a sliding effort.
Callum Wilson should have equalised moments later but the Bournemouth striker blasted over from inside the area.
Rodriguez threatened to follow his third goal of the season with another midway through the half, but Boruc was equal to his effort.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg almost wrapped up the points with a stinging shot that Ake cleared off the line, but it wasn’t long before Rodriguez delivered the killer blow in the 85th minute.
When Nathan Redmond lost control on the edge of the penalty area, the ball ran to Rodriguez, who unfurled a brilliant dipping shot that raced into the top corner.