A supposedly boring mid-table match ended up with a Saints drubbing and three red cards.
Southampton were more sinners than Saints as they slumped to a 3-0 home loss to West Bromwich Albion, ending up with nine players in a stormy encounter which also saw their rivals have a man sent for an early bath.
The rot set in for the hosts, still not entirely out of the relegation picture with this loss, after just six minutes, as Marc-Antoine Fortune drove in from close range.
Southampton lost their opening four games and it looked likely they would struggle to survive after successive promotions, but the six-game unbeaten run they brought into this match had moved them towards mid-table safety.
Even so, Mauricio Pochettino’s men pressed the self-destruct button in some style as Romelu Lukaku set up the opener for West Brom and then poached the second with a low strike in the 66th minute after Fortune returned the earlier compliment with a neat through ball.
Saints had earlier come close to levelling through Nathaniel Clyne but visiting keeper Ben Foster pushed his shot onto the crossbar.
West Brom, comfortable in eighth spot at start of play on the back of a strong opening half of the campaign, made light of the unavailability of captain Chris Brunt with a knee injury.
And three minutes after the second goal, Southampton’s hopes of a recovery faded still further as substitute Gaston Ramirez was red-carded after elbowing Shane Long – though Fortune joined him in being sent off after manhandling the Uruguayan.
With 13 minutes left, Long put the result beyond all doubt when he fired through the legs of home goalkeeper Artur Boruc for 3-0, Lukaku again instigating the move.
Daniel Fox completed Saints’ misery when he left them down to nine men with eight minutes remaining, picking up a second booking after tangling with Steven Reid.