2016/17 Season Review: December

By SFC Media Tue 06 Jun First team

Despite dropping out of the Europa League, December did see Saints record league victories over AFC Bournemouth and Middlesbrough.

The closing month of 2016 did, however, begin with a 3-0 defeat away at Crystal Palace before Saints returned to St Mary's for their Europa League showdown with Hapoel Be'er Sheva.

A goalless draw or victory of any margin would have seen Claude Puel's men progress from Group K into the knockout stages, though Maor Buzaglo's 78th minute strike meant two goals were needed inside just over ten minutes to qualify.

Virgil van Dijk did pull one back in the dying seconds of the game but it was not to be enough, as Saints' Europa League adventure came to an end.

They were soon back to winning ways just three days later, though. Sofiane Boufal’s solitary stunner against Middlesbrough, his first in the league, proved to be the decisive blow as Puel’s men moved back into the top half.

A goalless midweek draw away at Stoke City then followed before a fine Sunday display down the south coast against AFC Bournemouth.

Despite falling behind to Nathan Ake's early header, Ryan Bertrand soon equalised and Jay Rodriguez bagged a fine brace to ensure Saints secured all three points.

The month did then end on slightly disappointing terms, as defeats to Tottenham and West Brom saw Saints bow out of 2016 having endured back-to-back defeats.

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