SUPER-SUB Nathan Tella struck his first senior goal for Saints, before providing a classy late assist, to help secure a comfortable 3-1 win over already-relegated Fulham at St Mary’s.

The hosts led 1-0 through Che Adams’s close-range finish before Tella was introduced early in the second half.

And, having waited all season to get off the mark for the club, Tella took less than two minutes of his latest appearance to find the net, tapping home to double the advantage.

Fulham rallied in the closing stages, reducing the arrears through youngster Fabio Carvalho, but Saints hit back as Tella backheeled the ball to fellow sub Theo Walcott to fire home and secure victory.

It is the first time since December Saints have won back-to-back Premier League games, a result which lifts them up to 13th in the table.

There were two changes from the midweek win over Crystal Palace. Jan Bednarek, who had previously started every game for Saints this season, missed out with an ankle injury and was replaced by Mohammed Salisu. The other switch came in goal, as Alex McCarthy returned with Fraser Forster dropping to the bench.

Fulham, who were relegated following defeat to Burnley on Monday evening, made four switches. Among those to come in were former Saint Harrison Reed and teenager Carvalho, making his first Premier League start.

After neat play out from the back, it was Scott Parker’s side who had the first shot in anger, but Josh Onomah could not keep his effort on target.

Nathan Redmond then blazed wide at the other end as both teams struggled to get into any sort of early rhythm, not helped by the heavens opening after quarter of an hour.

Takumi Minamino looked like he was about to break the deadlock moments later. After Adams did well to collect a stray Ola Aina pass, the striker fed in the Liverpool loanee, but, under pressure from the retreating Aina, his shot was hacked away by Joachim Andersen.

The deadlock was broken on 27 minutes. After Andersen had tripped Stuart Armstrong on the right, James Ward-Prowse delivered the resulting set piece into the box. Fulham failed to deal with it and Adams was on hand to smartly turn home his ninth goal of the campaign.

Fulham sought a quick response with Carvalho denied by McCarthy, before Ward-Prowse lined up another set piece. This one was within shooting range, 20 yards out, central, but his whipped effort was parried away by Alphonse Areola as Saints took a narrow lead into the break.

Saints looked full of confidence after the restart, opening up Fulham with Ings slipping in Redmond on the left, but his shot was blocked by Andersen.

Ralph Hasenhuttl turned to his bench before the hour mark, introducing Tella in place of Ings, and it proved to be an inspired change. Saints almost scored immediately, with Adams finding Redmond in space, but his strike was straight at Areola.

However, the French goalkeeper was picking the ball out of his net barely a minute later. Kyle Walker-Peters got down the right and perfectly delivered for substitute Tella in the centre to tap home and spark jubilant celebrations for his first goal in Saints colours.

Parker instantly turned to his bench and one of his subs nearly halved the deficit as Joe Bryan fired just wide from the edge of the box.

Just as the game appeared to be drifting for the visitors, they pulled a goal back in impressive fashion. Bobby De Cordova-Reid slipped the ball through for Carvalho, who hammered an effort over McCarthy and in off the crossbar.

But that proved to be brief respite as Saints restored their two-goal cushion. Tella was again involved, flicking an Adams pass into the path of Walcott, who swept home from the edge of the box, courtesy of a deflection off Bryan.

Saints: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Stephens, Vestergaard, Salisu; Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Diallo, 78); Minamino (Walcott, 76), Redmond; Adams, Ings (Tella, 58).

Unused subs: Ramsay, Ferry, Djenepo, Obafemi, N’Lundulu, Forster (g/k).

Booked: None.

Fulham: Areola; Tete, Andersen, Adarabioyo, Aina (Bryan, 63); Onomah (Maja, 76), Reed, Anguissa (Lookman, 63); Carvalho, De Cordova-Reid, Cavaleiro.

Unused subs: Odoi, Hector, Ream, Loftus-Cheek, Mitrovic, Rodak (g/k).

Booked: Andersen.

Referee: Craig Pawson.

VAR: David Coote.