Aston Villa rose into eighth place by edging out Southampton by a single goal in a game in which their opponents were unlucky to get nothing.
Southampton had the better chances, but it was Villa who made theirs count, as a lone goal from Ross Barkley made the difference.
Southampton had appeals for a penalty early on. Danny Ings did well to make a chance for himself with some instinctive skill, and set up Stuart Armstrong.
Armstrong’s shot was blocked by Matty Cash’s arm, prompting a VAR check. However, controversially, no penalty was given – because the ball appeared to have deflected off Cash’s leg first.
Southampton kept pushing and were on top for most of the first half. But they had to be alert at the other end too, with Alex McCarthy forced into a save by Ollie Watkins.
There was nothing McCarthy could do to stop Villa taking the lead in the 41st minute though. Jack Grealish sailed a cross in with his left foot, with Barkley stretching his head out to divert it home.
VILLA GO AHEAD!
Ross Barkley stretches to get on the end of Grealish’s cross and plants a great header in the bottom corner.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 30, 2021
Resilient Villa hang on
The hosts pushed for an equaliser after the break. Emiliano Martinez had to make a good save to stop a Che Adams effort from the outside of his boot.
At the other end, Bertrand Traore sent a shot narrowly wide as Villa looked to extend their lead.
But it was Southampton who were still probing more. However, their chances began to reduce in quality, with Ings having to shoot optimistically from distance.
A good chance to equalise came in the final 10 minutes, but Nathan Redmond’s effort from inside the box was deflected over.
From the resulting corner, Villa had their backs against the wall, with Martinez making a great save before a couple of defenders made blocks to preserve their clean sheet.
Southampton thought they had equalised deep into stoppage time, but the assistant referee’s flag was up to deny Ings. VAR checked, but upheld the onfield decision – despite it being a matter of milimetres.
Hence, Villa kept hold of their 1-0 win. It gives them a first away win of 2021 at the fourth attempt and means Southampton have lost three league games in a row for the first time since 2019.