MANAGER Ralph Hasenhuttl heaped praise on Saints after toppling Premier League leaders Everton and added: “This was a step forward.”

The Austrian boss described as “one of our best performances so far” his team’s commanding 2-0 victory over the 10-man Toffees at St Mary’s.

First-half goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams wrapped up all three points for the hosts.

Everton were left a man light after Lucas Digne was dismissed for a nasty challenge on Kyle Walker-Peters in the second half.

Assessing his team’s display, Saints boss Hasenhuttl said: “One of our best performances so far against a strong side.

“Being one man more, I think it was good that we had good game management, good balance.

“It wasn’t important to score again or create chances – it was more important to keep the ball and let the opponent run.

“I think we did that in a fantastic way. This was a step forward.

“In the last games we also showed in possession a good improvement – massive steps forward and this is necessary to become a better side.”

Victory over Carlo Ancelotti’s Blues meant Saints have now picked up 10 points out of a possible 12.

Hasenhuttl added: “After our not so good start, it was necessary to pick up a few (points).

“We will keep on working and keep on being focused. I think what I like in my team at the moment is that it seems we have definitely taken some big steps forward.

“But the biggest mistakes you make when you are successful – keep on being focused and keep on working hard.”