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DANNY INGS was right on cue once again as Ralph Hasenhuttl toasted his one-year Saints anniversary with a win.

Ings hit his tenth of the season by heading home James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick before the pair celebrated by pretending to take pool shots.

 Danny Ings celebrated his opening goal with James Ward-Prowse by pretending to take pool shots
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Danny Ings celebrated his opening goal with James Ward-Prowse by pretending to take pool shotsCredit: Rex Features

Ryan Bertrand then flicked in just before the break to leave Norwich looking well and truly snookered.

Daniel Farke’s strugglers hit back through Teemu Pukki to ensure a nervy final 25 minutes.

But Southampton held on, enjoying a rub of the green at long last when Sam Byram blazed over at the death.

It ended what has been a seriously up-and-down 12 months for Hasenhuttl on a high note.

The result and Everton’s loss in the Merseyside derby meant Saints clambered out of the relegation zone, giving the Austrian something to smile about on his anniversary Thursday.

Hasenhuttl’s Saints reign has been a year of two halves with the second part unidentifiable from the promising first.

Arriving at the club when they had taken just nine points from 14 games, the Austrian turned things around to keep them up relatively comfortably without signing anyone in January.

It hinted at a brighter future for the long-suffering St Mary’s faithful.

Yet what they have seen this term has arguably been as bad as anything in the last few lamentable campaigns.

Ever-changing line-ups, player bust-ups, injuries and questionable transfers have all culminated in Saints only being three points better off than they were last season ahead of this clash.

 Ings and Ryan Bertrand scored both the Saints' goals
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Ings and Ryan Bertrand scored both the Saints' goalsCredit: Getty - Contributor
 Ings headed the opener from a tight angle
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Ings headed the opener from a tight angleCredit: PA:Press Association

The individual stories of the XI he opted for went some way to explaining the difficulties for the south-coast club this term.

Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was free to leave in the summer and has only returned to action because of Angus Gunn’s confidence being decimated by that 9-0 to Leicester.

Cedric Soares was initially loaned out to Inter by Hasenhuttl last season, Bertrand has been dropped at times, while Jack Stephens has largely been overlooked. Only Jan Bednarek has been a mainstay.

In midfield, Ward-Prowse’s resurgence has been one of Hasenhuttl’s success stories - as had Nathan Redmond’s until his downturn this term.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been inconsistent while sadly Moussa Djenepo has spent most of his time on the treatment table since arriving in the summer from Belgium.

Ings has only taken his chance because Che Adams has looked out of his depth following his July move from Birmingham. Shane Long has been a spectator for most of this campaign.

 Teemu Pukki gave the Canaries hope in the second-half
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Teemu Pukki gave the Canaries hope in the second-halfCredit: Reuters
 But the Finnish's finish was not enough
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But the Finnish's finish was not enoughCredit: Reuters

Yet despite all that Hasenhuttl’s side were excellent in what was as dominant and then resilient a performance as he has presided over.

Home nerves were eased when Ings struck his ninth goal in ten games on 23 minutes.

Ward-Prowse fired in a free-kick that he had won to the near post and there was Ings, who ghosted in between McLean and Ben Godfrey to flick home.

It was the 11th straight Southampton goal to be scored by one of Ward-Prowse or Ings - and the pair celebrated with their rehearsed snooker routine.

St Mary’s has been as quiet as a crowd at the Crucible at times this season.

But Saints fans were in full voice when Bertrand made it 2-0 two minutes before the interval, firing home after Shane Long had nodded down a Ward-Prowse corner.

The visitors rallied after the break and were back in it when Pukki burst away and blasted past McCarthy.

The fact that their talisman has his shooting boots on once again is a big boost for Norwich - but Farke will have been gutted when Byram fired over in injury-time.

As for Hasenhuttl, he will be relieved to have eased the pressure with this win and hope for some more pot luck in his second year.

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