Southampton suffered a blow in their bid to avoid Premier League relegation as they went down 1-0 at home to Aston Villa in a match disrupted by a rogue drone on Saturday.
Ollie Watkins struck Villa’s winner in the 77th minute off a free kick by Douglas Luiz shortly after Saints had been controversially denied the opening goal by VAR.
The home crowd had erupted when Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse’s deflected effort found the net in the 63rd minute but their joy was cut short with substitute Mohamed Elyounoussi deemed to have fouled Jacob Ramsey in the box.
Moussa Djenepo came close to a late equaliser but Villa held on for a third successive away league win as their resurgence under new manager Unai Emery continued.
Southampton, who could have escaped the drop zone with a victory, remain bottom of the table with 15 points from 20 games. Villa stay 11th on 28 points.
After ending a run of six successive Premier League defeats by beating Everton last week, Southampton had hoped that they had turned a corner in their battle to beat the drop.
But it turned out to be a dispiriting day for manager Nathan Jones whose side did little to warm the fans.
Villa were the better side and although they had a let-off when Ward-Prowse’s goal was ruled out, deserved the points.
Southampton also had a first-half effort by Che Adams disallowed for offside, but it the second decision that was especially hard to take for Jones and his players.
We scored a goal that was overturned softly we feel. Just really, really frustrated because I feel we deserved something from the game,” Jones said.
Villa sealed the points when Luiz swung in a free kick and Watkins found space to nod the ball into the net — the goal allowed to stand after also being checked for offside.
Emery has now won five league games from seven since he replaced Steven Gerrard at Villa Park.
“I respect 100% the VAR. I didn’t move one hand when the referee was watching it for us or for them. If he decided then I am of course accepting it. Today it is for us, sometimes it will be against us,” Emery said of Southampton’s ill-fortune.
The main talking point before halftime was referee Michael Salisbury taking the players off the pitch for several minutes after a drone hovered above the pitch.
Police gave the all-clear after around 10 minutes.