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Saturday 24 June 2017

Boufal the hero for Saints

Sofiane Boufal
Sofiane Boufal

Sofiane Boufal's first Premier League goal was one to remember as his stunning 25-yard strike sealed Southampton a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Boufaljoined Saints in a club-record deal worth £21million last summer and the Moroccan's moment of magic proved decisive at St Mary's in a game of few clear-cut chances.

Southampton's victory moves them up to 10th in the table while Middlesbrough remain 16th, after just one win in five games. Boufal has taken time to settle since initially arriving injured from Lille but the 23-year-old is a precocious attacking talent and manager Claude Puel will hope his brilliance here, worthy of winning any game, is just the beginning.

The odd goal was always likely to settle this contest considering both teams have averaged less than one a game in the Premier League.

Both sides were content to stroke the ball around early on but the only damage done was to the face of Boufal, after a jostling Adam Clayton had flung back his hand, although it appeared accidental despite the forward's protestations.

Boufal continued to look the most likely source of a goal and in the 53rd minute so it proved as the forward, 25 yards out, took one touch to receive the ball, another to tee himself up and a third to hammer it with his left foot past the rooted Victor Valdes.

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