Jay Rodriguez and Nathan Redmond scored as Southampton defeated relegated Middlesbrough 2-1 on Saturday to snap a run of five Premier League matches without a win.
One-time England international Rodriguez notched his fourth goal of the season to give the Saints the lead at the Riverside Stadium on 42 minutes.
Nathan Redmond came on at half-time and struck a second for Southampton before Shane Long fired over from the spot after winning the visitors a penalty.
Patrick Bamford pulled one back for Boro with his first goal in over two years, but Claude Puel’s side held on to climb up one spot to ninth.
Frenchman Puel handed a debut to former Barcelona and Juventus defender Martin Caceres, while Jeremy Pied made his first start after recovering from a long-term knee injury.
England manager Gareth Southgate was in the crowd as he returned to his former club ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifier against Scotland, perhaps casting an eye over Boro centre-back Ben Gibson.
Bamford, who rejoined Boro on a permanent deal from Chelsea in January, tested Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster with a hopeful drive on 25 minutes as the game was slow to spark into life.
George Friend then nodded wide from a corner, but Southampton forged ahead just before the break when Long skipped down the right and cut the ball back for Rodriguez to turn beyond Brad Guzan.
Slack Boro defending allowed Redmond, another player hoping to impress Southgate, to compound their problems on 57 minutes as the substitute was afforded far too much space to curl superbly into the top corner.
Irishman Long was sent sprawling by Guzan soon after, but the striker blazed his penalty over via the top of the crossbar.
Bamford handed Boro a lifeline when he headed in a Viktor Fischer corner with 18 minutes to play, but Forster produced a fine save in the dying stages to deny Calum Chambers an equaliser.