LONDON (REUTERS) - Southampton recorded one of the biggest victories in English Premier League history when they crushed a woeful Sunderland side 8-0 at St Mary's on Saturday, prompting beaten manager Gus Poyet to describe it as his "most embarrassing time on a football pitch".
The win fell one goal short of Manchester United's record 9-0 triumph over Ipswich in 1995 and maintained the south coast club's remarkable start to the season under manager Ronald Koeman.
"I'm still in a little bit in shock," said the Dutchman, who began the campaign fending off suggestions his side would be likely relegation candidates after selling a number of last season's best performers.
Saturday's demolition, the latest evidence to confound the doom-laden predictions swirling round the club in the close season, left Southampton third in the table on 16 points, six behind leaders Chelsea.
In the opposite dugout to Koeman, however, a red-faced Poyet was forced to apologise to the travelling Sunderland fans who witnessed a 3-0 half time deficit turn into a humiliating rout.
"It's the most embarrassing time I've had on a football pitch," Poyet said. "You think you will never get these situations but unfortunately it is sometimes your turn. I feel very sorry for the fans, they came a long way to see a very difficult game today.
"I learned a lot about the players today - the bad side as some gave up and I know who they are. As a group we didn't show the character to be on the pitch."