LONDON (REUTERS) - Two goals from in-form striker Danny Ings helped Southampton to a 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday (Dec 21) and lifted them out of the Premier League relegation zone.
The home supporters were left frustrated at Villa Park with another timid performance as the hosts suffered their fourth consecutive league defeat to replace Southampton in the bottom three.
Southampton grabbed the early advantage after Shane Long chased down a long ball behind the Villa backline, but his effort was parried by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, only for Ings to score from the rebound.
The visitors doubled their lead on the half-hour mark after a James Ward-Prowse corner found Jack Stephens who headed the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Villa suffered another setback just after halftime as a botched clearance from Marvelous Nakamba landed at the feet of Ings, who fired a shot past Heaton for his seventh goal in the last seven league matches.
"Massive win, we knew how important this game was. We heard their supporters getting on to them early on," Ings said.
"We're working on things every day, but I think today is a huge step in progressing forward. When the third goal went in we knew it would be difficult for them to come back."
Dean Smith's Villa, who lost midfielder John McGinn through an injury in the first half, showed an alarming lack of fight in the second until midfielder Jack Grealish pulled one back through a spectacular volley 15 minutes from time.
Southampton, who collected only their third away win of the season, visit Chelsea on Boxing Day, while Villa host second-bottom Norwich City.