Manolo Gabbiadini came off the bench and netted an instinctive finish to put a dagger through the heart of Swansea City by helping Southampton to a crucial 1-0 Premier League win at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Three points were crucial to both teams coming into the game on Tuesday night as they knew that three points would go a long way to securing their safety in the top-flight, now the Welsh side look condemned to Championship football next season.
The nerves showed for most of the game until Gabbiadini stepped up for the Saints 18 minutes from time to seal a very important win for Southampton as they are now all but safe for another season in the Premier League.
On the other hand, Swansea will now be hoping for some help from other teams to stay up but they will go away from this game knowing that safety was in their hands giving the fact their last two games on the season were at home.
As was to be expected, given the magnitude of the game, both sides started the game nervously and that showed with some slack passing from both sets of players.
That meant that both sides had very few chances throughout the first half with Charlie Austin having the best opportunity to score when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg played the striker through, but the striker saw his shot easily saved by Łukasz Fabiański.
At the other end, the Swans’ came close themselves when a good cross from Connor Roberts found Sam Clucas in the box, but the midfielder seen his flicked header just go inches wide of the goal.
Towards the end of the first half, the Swans had a really good spell of possession without creating any more clear-cut chances, but it was clear that the hosts decided that they best way to score against the Saints was from a cross, but the visitors stood strong as the scoreline remained goalless at the break.
The second half started on a much brighter note as the Swans almost took the lead three minutes after the restart when a brilliant long-range strike from Jordan Ayew looked destined for the top corner of the net but for a brilliant diving save from Alex McCarthy.
After that chance though and despite having a good spell in the game, the Swans lacked the killer final pass to find a way past a stubborn Saints defence.
This gave the visitors the confidence to go forward and they really should have taken the lead after the hour mark when a great cross from Cédric Soares found Austin unmarked in the box, but he headed the ball straight at Fabianski from six yards out.
Needing that all-important goal, Mark Hughes made a bold decision to bring on Shane Long and Gabbiadini and that proved to be the right decision as Gabbiadini opened the scoring four minutes after coming off the bench.
The goal came from a corner which fell to Austin, who saw his goal-bound shot well-saved by Fabianski, but on the rebound, Gabbiadini reacted first to slot the ball into the back of the net.
The hosts really struggled to get back into the game after that and the Saints could have doubled their lead before the end of the game when Gabbiadini played Long through on goal, but his shot went into the side netting when he should have done better.
It didn’t prove costly though as the Saints held on to win the game which all but confirms their stay in the Premier League, while the Swans will now be hoping for some help from other teams to avoid being relegated to the Championship.