(Reuters) - Southampton manager Mark Hughes had nothing but praise for his players following their 2-1 Premier League victory over Bournemouth and urged his side to continue the momentum in the battle to avoid relegation.
Dusan Tadic netted a brace as the south coast club moved to within a point of safety in the standings.
Hughes picked up his first Premier League win as Saints boss at just the right time and feels his side will be brimming with confidence as they prepare for three ‘cup finals’ against Everton, Swansea City and Manchester City.
“Everyone knew the circumstances leading into the game, we needed a win and draw or a loss wouldn’t do.” Hughes told Sky Sports. “This is only one part of what we need to do with the games remaining, but it was a huge effort today.
“I thought we were good value for the lead, then we conceded from a set-piece. Worry sets in about how the guys react, we have been damaged by previous results and goals going against us, but to a man they all stepped up, dug in, got back in the lead.
“At the end we were throwing bodies at the ball to keep Bournemouth out. They threw everything at us and we had to dig in.”
Southampton move above Stoke City to 18th, one point below Swansea City and three points off Huddersfield Town who, on paper, have the most difficult three games remaining of the campaign.
“It is a huge result for us. It doesn’t mean anything yet but could well be very significant...,” Hughes added.
“We need to have the teams above us looking over their shoulder, and clearly this result does that for us. We want more pressure on the ones above us. They know we have good quality, we just need to keep this momentum from this huge result. If we keep going like today we will go close.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was left frustrated by his side’s performance which resulted in their third straight defeat.
“The goals we conceded were big mistakes and we got punished for them.” Howe said. “I am disappointed with how we played, it was a game we could and should have won if we play like we can, but we didn’t.
“We were disappointed with our attacking play, got in promising positions but the quality wasn’t there. We made life difficult for ourselves, had good spells but not enough.
“We have got to show that pride in trying to achieve and win. We have got two games to do that now.”
Reporting by Marc Isaacs; Editing by Christian Radnedge