(Reuters) - Southampton’s match winner Jay Rodriguez, who scored two goals in a Premier League game for the first time in almost three years to beat local rivals Bournemouth 3-1 on Sunday, praised his team’s grit and quality in a dominant second-half performance.
“The lads worked hard,” he told Sky Sports.
“First half was difficult, but second half we showed what we are capable of. It was true grit and determination.”
The former Burnley striker, who suffered a serious knee injury in April 2014 and was out of action for 16 months, and then missed much of last season after ankle surgery, played down his fine second goal, insisting that he was just happy to be playing again.
“The second goal I enjoyed but any goal scored means a lot,” he said.
”Just playing is the best feeling.
”You want to be out there winning with your team. I want more of it, and try to keep scoring and keep playing.
“I love football and that’s all I want to do.”
Ryan Bertrand, the other Southampton goalscorer, said it was important to equalise quickly once Bournemouth had taken an early lead.
“We have been a bit shy of goals of late, but it’s not just the strikers, we all have to chip in,” he said.
”Going 1-0 down gives you the extra determination to get back in it. It’s important to get the equaliser as soon as possible.
With Southampton back in the top seven, where they have finished for the past two seasons, Bertrand is now looking to end the year on a high against Tottenham and West Bromwich Albion.
“We are in the running for another consistent high finish,” he added.
“It’s important to finish the busy Christmas period on a positive note and see where that leaves us.”
Former Southampton hero Matt Le Tissier added his support for Rodriguez when he tweeted: “Couldn’t be more pleased for @JayRodriguez9 Been a long road back and shown great attitude in adversity #turningpoint”
Reporting by Steve Tongue; Editing by Toby Davis