SOUTHAMPTON, England (AP) — Sheffield United slumped to its 11th loss in 12 games as Southampton eased to a 3-0 win to climb into the top four of the Premier League on Sunday.
Che Adams poked in the opening goal in the 34th minute at St. Mary’s Stadium, before further strikes in the second half through Stuart Armstrong and substitute Nathan Redmond sealed Southampton’s seventh win in its last 10 league games.
While the south-coast club can perhaps target an unlikely shot at qualifying for the Champions League, Sheffield United looks destined for relegation after a huge fall from grace from last season when Chris Wilder’s team was in contention for the European places until the final weeks.
United remains the only team in the top flight without a win and is last on just one point, five behind West Bromwich Albion in 19th place.
It is the first top-tier team since Queens Park Rangers in 2012 to fail to win any of its first 12 matches.
“They were the better side today,” Wilder said. “You can’t afford to make that mistake for the first goal and when an opportunity comes you have to take it and we didn’t.
“Both those things in the first half set it up for a really difficult afternoon for us.”
Wilder’s team remains without a clean sheet, and it was defensive solidity that United prided itself on last season in its first year back in the Premier League.
There was a hint of misfortune against Southampton, with Adams scoring only after Jan Bednarek helped the ball back toward goal with his shoulder after a free kick was only partially cleared.
Armstrong then scored off a weak shot from the edge of the area that deflected into the net off the outstretched foot of a defender in the 62nd.
From then on, however, United collapsed and Southampton poured forward at will.
Danny Ings, making his first start after a long injury lay-off, wasted two great chances before Redmond exchanged a 1-2 with Oriol Romeu and curled a fine finish into the corner in the 83rd.
Southampton moved above Chelsea and is assured of finishing the weekend in the Champions League positions.
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl cannot wait for upcoming fixtures against Arsenal and Manchester City.
“We need these games to see how good we are, to see how competitive we are,” he said. “It’s not a coincidence that we are now very calm on the ball, we’ve tried to develop this game, and create so many solutions on the ball.
“This is a good way of playing football against every opponent. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t keep going this way.”
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