Defeats in their opening four games had left the Saints rock bottom and, after conceding 14 goals in that time, Nigel Adkins took drastic steps dropping club captain Kelvin Davis in favour of debutant Paulo Gazzaniga. £12 million record signing Gaston Ramirez was also handed a first start alongside fellow new recruit Maya Yoshida as rung the chances following last weeks 6-1 mauling at Arsenal.
Ramirez, in particular, started off brightly for the home side and played in Rickie Lambert down the right for the striker to blaze over the bar while Adam Lallana’s ambitious overhead kick was comfortably saved by Brad Guzan.
The visitors hadn’t created much going forward with Barry Bannan’s volley from Stephen Ireland’s cross the closes they came until Darren Bent gave them the lead in the 36th minute, tapping in Ireland’s mis-hit shot after Southampton failed to clear their lines.
Bent forced Gazzaniga into a smart save just after the break before Christian Benteke passed up a glorious chance to double Villa’s advantage five minutes after the break, heading over Bannan’s corner when well placed. It would come back to haunt the Belgium international eight minutes later as Lambert controlled a driven Lallana cross to lash the ball past Guzan.
The pendulum was now swinging in the home sides direction and Nathaniel Clyne put them in front just after the hour, finishing cooly after a neat interchange with Ramirez, before Jason Puncheon rifled home from six-yards to make it 3-1. Lambert then rounded off an excellent second half display dispatching an injury time penalty after Guzan had fouled Emmanuel Mayuka to lift the Saints off the foot of the table.