Derby County 0 Southampton 1
The visitors recovered from two league defeats to outplay Derby and the margin of victory could have been much wider but for the form of goalkeeper Roy Carroll.
He kept his team in the game until the 57th minute when the Saints finally managed to finish off one of the many impressive moves that had made the home side look second rate.
David McGoldrick bundled the ball over the line from close range after Carroll had saved from Adam Lallana.
It was just as well for Derby that Southampton did not have a sharper cutting edge up front, because the damage would surely have been a lot worse for Paul Jewell's struggling team.
Southampton created three one-on-ones before half-time, but failed to take any of them and those wasted chances could have proved costly when Derby broke through in the 56th minute.
A long ball from substitute Dean Leacock sent Kris Commons clear, but Kelvin Davis did well to smother his low shot and 60 seconds later the visitors were ahead.
Former Derby winger Lee Holmes found enough space on the right to whip in a cross which Lallana hit first time against Carroll and after the rebound had come back off the bar, McGoldrick headed it in.
Derby were now forced to chase the game, but they rarely looked like equalising and it was the visitors who came closest to scoring again.
The movement and passing of Southampton was excellent and when Simon Gillett picked out McGoldrick, his header thumped against the bar.
The young striker thought he had scored a second ten minutes from time when Holmes picked him out, but Carroll produced his best save of the game although it could not rescue Derby from another worrying defeat.