SOUTHAMPTON, England, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Southampton boosted their hopes of staying in the Premier League after a fine first-half performance garnished by goals from Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand helped them to a nervy 2-1 home win over struggling Norwich on Wednesday.
The result lifted Southampton out of the bottom three into 17th place on 15 points from as many games, one more than 18th-placed Everton who lost 5-2 at Liverpool, but left Norwich still 19th on 11 points.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl was pleased with the outcome although he acknowledged the battle to stay up would be a long one.
“We have lifted ourselves from the relegation zone and you see how quickly things change but there is still a long way to go,” he told the BBC.
“We have found a shape and a core and that helps us us to play in an aggressive way and that’s what the supporters like to see here.”
The Saints dominated the opening exchanges of the relegation dogfight and Ings fired them ahead in the 22nd minute when he headed home a James Ward-Prowse free kick.
Moussa Djenepro drove a shot over the bar for the home side before left back Bertrand made it 2-0 in the 43rd minute, capitalising on another fine set piece by Ward-Prowse as he slotted in the midfielder’s corner at the far post.
Southampton almost netted the third on the stroke of halftime when Norwich keeper Tim Krul only just managed to tip Pierre Hojberg’s deflected shot over the bar.
The tide turned after the break as Teemu Pukki’s fierce shot was parried by Alex McCarthy and the Finnish striker pulled one back for Norwich in the 65th minute when he beat the Saints keeper with a clinical finish from inside the penalty area.
Norwich launched a fierce onslaught in the closing stages and substitute Emiliano Buendia missed a gilt-edged chance to salvage a point for the visitors when he headed wide of the far post in stoppage time.
Norwich manager Daniel Farke rued his team’s poor start to the game but believed they deserved more from an improved second-half display.
“I’m a bit annoyed in the first half we weren’t brave enough,” said Farke.
“It was a really good reaction in the second half but it is important to play this way for 90 minutes. We showed a great reaction and in the end we deserved at least a draw.” (Reporting by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond and Ian Chadband)