Danny Ings’ late penalty helped Southampton to a 2-1 win over Brighton - which also takes them up to fifth in the Premier League table.
The Seagulls started the brighter side and went close through Danny Welbeck inside 10 minutes, with Tariq Lamptey making marauding runs down the right.
With both sides struggling for quality in the final third, it was perhaps inevitable a penalty would provide a breakthrough. The ball struck James Ward-Prowse’s flailing hand, gifting the hosts a spot-kick that Pascal Gross smashed home.
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But the visitors grew into the game, and Ward-Prowse made amends for his handiwork by picking out Jannik Vestergaard at a corner who sent Saints level with a wonderful header shortly before half-time.
Ings made his return from injury at the interval, coming on alongside Nathan Redmond as they replaced Theo Walcott and Moussa Djenepo, but the striker struggled to have an impact in the tightest of matches.
But VAR drama struck again as Walker-Peters was taken down on the right flank. After a lengthy check, the video assistant referee decided the foul took place inside the box and Ings whacked in the penalty for the winning goal.
Brighton remain 16th, while Saints leapfrog Manchester United.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)
The full-back was running the show tonight and won the admittedly dubious penalty that saw Saints take all three points. His tricky footwork and crossing provided Southampton's main threat throughout.
TALKING POINT - Brighton's home woes
Brighton have won just five Premier League games at home in 2020 and given their lengthy absence Seagulls fans are yet to see a win at the ground this calendar year.
They head into the festive period toying with a relegation battle and must get better to ensure Premier League status.
They play football the right way but right now it’s just not producing the goods, especially at home.
BRIGHTON: Ryan 6, White 6, Dunk 5, Webster 5, Lamptey 7, Veltman 6, Gross 6, Bissouma 7, March 6, Welbeck 5, Connolly 6. Subs. Maupay 6, Trossard n/a, Jahanbaksh n/a.
SAINTS: McCarthy 6, Walker-Peters 8, Bertrand 6, Vestergaard 7, Romeu 7, Ward-Prowse 6, Adams 6, Djenepo 5, Armstrong 6, Walcott 7, Bednarek 5. Subs. Ings 7, Redmond n/a.
25’ - PENALTY TO BRIGHTON! Ward-Prowse is penalised for a handball in the box! His arm was flying up and out of control.
26’ - GOAL! BRIGHTON 1 SAINTS 0 (Gross). Gross absolutely leathers it into the top right corner.
45’ - GOAL! BRIGHTON 1 SAINTS 1 (Vestergaard). Southampton have their equaliser! It's a set-piece. Ward-Prowse. Corner. Vestergaard. Header. Bang. He leaps highest and sends one into the net.
63’ - CHANCE! Ings makes something from nothing and plants a header into Ryan's arms. Half a chance, still a chance.
73’ - CHANCE! What a goal this would've been. Ings finds Redmond through the tightest of gaps but the rusty midfielder whacks a volley well over from eight yards out.
78’ - Free-kick to Southampton on the very edge of the box. VAR has a check though...
79’ - PENALTY TO SOUTHAMPTON! DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA
81’ - GOAL! BRIGHTON 1 SOUTHAMPTON 2 (Ings) The returning hero smashes it in!
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