Southampton came from behind to beat traditional south coast rivals Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 in the Premier League on Monday as Jannik Vestergaard and Danny Ings cancelled out a Pascal Gross opener for the home side.
German midfielder Gross fired Brighton ahead with a 26th-minute penalty before Vestergaard levelled with a superb header on the stroke of halftime and Ings turned the match on its head with an 81st-minute penalty.
Vestergaard said an improved second-half performance allowed Southampton to chalk up an important win in their quest to stay in the upper half of the table.
“We knew it would be a difficult game as Brighton are a very good team, very organised and know what they are doing,” the Danish centre back said. “They gave us some challenges throughout the game. They made it difficult for us but I still think we managed to get into the game and in the second half I thought we did very well and deservedly won.”
The result left Southampton fifth in the standings on 20 points from 11 games while Brighton stayed 16th on 10 points, four clear of the relegation zone.
James Ward-Prowse handled an innocuous-looking ball in the area and Gross made no mistake with the spot-kick, sending goalkeeper Alex McCarthy the wrong way.
Ward-Prowse made amends when he floated in an inviting corner for Vestergaard to head home inside the far post as Southampton pressed in the closing stages of the first half.
When the match seemed to be heading for a draw, Solly March was deemed to have fouled Kyle Walker-Peters just inside the penalty area and Ings drilled in the spot-kick to silence some 2,000 home Brighton fans.
Neil Maupay missed Brighton’s best chance to salvage a draw in the closing stages as his shot on the turn sailed inches wide.
Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuettl was pleased with his team’s perseverance after falling behind. “With the ball I didn’t think we played our best game,” he said. “It was slippery on the pitch, every player had problems. The crowd was also there, for the players a little bit more stress. In the end a brilliant penalty by Danny Ings. A win like this last season I don’t think we had a lot of. Good to see.”