Southampton moved out of the Premier League bottom three with a comfortable 2-0 victory over a beleaguered Fulham at St Mary's on Wednesday.
After a cagey opening, Oriol Romeu's first goal of the season put the home side in front in the 23rd minute before James Ward-Prowse's third St Mary's goal in his last four appearances on the south coast made it two five minutes before half time.
Ryan Babel hit the crossbar in the second half, but otherwise Fulham offered very little as an attacking force, with Saints seeing the win out with ease.
The result sees Fulham slip closer to the drop - 10 points from safety with 10 games to go - having now shipped 62 goals even at this juncture of the campaign, while Saints' first win in five sees them climb up to 17th and out of the bottom three.
Southampton: Gunn (7), Bednarek (6), Yoshida (6), Vestergaard (6), Valery (6), Hojbjerg (6), Romeu (7), Ward-Prowse (8), Bertrand (7), Austin (6), Redmond (6).
Subs: Long (6).
Fulham: Rico (4), Odoi (5), McDonald (5), Ream (5), Bryan (4), Nordveit (4), Chambers (5), Anguissa (3), Cairney (4), Babel (6), Mitrovic (5).
Subs: Sessegnon (6), Vietto (6).
Man of the Match: James Ward-Prowse
Charlie Austin had the ball in the net in the opening stages, but not after he had barged Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico to the floor, before Rico played a big part in the hosts taking the lead.
Ward-Prowse whipped the corner into the middle, Rico came to punch, but could only beat the ball down to Romeu on the edge of the box, with the Saints midfielder drilling into the net, through a sea of legs.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg then fired just wide, before Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa was denied by a smart save by Angus Gunn in the Saints goal.
Two changes for Fulham from the side that were beaten 3-1 at West Ham on Friday, with Ryan Sessegnon demoted to the bench, and Jean Michael Seri not in the squad at all. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and Kevin McDonald came in. Three Saints changes from their Arsenal defeat, with Charlie Austin in to lead the line. Ryan Bertrand and Maya Yoshida also started.
That save proved vital as Ward-Prowse made it two moments later. A simple header forward opened Fulham up, Austin fed it back for Nathan Redmond, who curled for goal, Rico made a smart save, but could only parry the ball into the path of Ward-Prowse who slid in to make it two.
After the break, Fulham did little to up the tempo, with Babel's deflected effort that beat Gunn in the Saints goal, but cannoned out off the crossbar, as close as the visitors came.
The travelling Fulham fans vented their anger as boss Claudio Ranieri throughout the match, with even more vitriol greeting the final whistle. With 10 games to go, Fulham are nearing needing a miracle to survive.
- Southampton have won two of their last four Premier League home games (D1 L1), as many wins as they managed in their previous 21 at St Marys (D10 L9).
- Fulham have lost seven of their last eight Premier League games (W1), conceding at least twice in all eight.
- Southampton have beaten a newly promoted team for the first time since May 2017 (2-1 against Middlesboro), having failed to do so in their last 10 Premier League games against such teams (D5 L5).
- Southampton are now unbeaten in their last 20 home league games against Fulham (W14 D6) since a 1-2 loss in October 1935 (second tier). Only against Coventry (22 games) have they ever had a longer unbeaten home run in their league history.
- Oriol Romeu's opener was his fourth Premier League goal for Southampton, his first in 42 games in the competition.
Man of the match - James Ward-Prowse
Ward-Prowse's 40th minute strike means he has scored three goals in his last four Premier League home games for Southampton, one more than he netted in his previous 42 combined. No player created more chances for team-mates in the match as he controlled proceedings from the middle of the park, showing £30m Anguissa how it is done.
Fulham welcome local rivals Chelsea to Craven Cottage on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, while Southampton face a tough trip Manchester United on Saturday.