Mark Hughes has praised Southampton’s supporters following the team’s 3-2 defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.

Speaking to the club’s official website, the Saints boss spoke of how he felt that the players’ efforts on the pitch were appreciated by a sell-out crowd at St Mary’s.

I felt the players gave everything today and we had fantastic support from the crowd – they recognised the huge effort and that everyone was fighting for the shirt.

Saints fell further behind in the race to avoid relegation to the Championship on Saturday, with the team surrendering a two-goal lead to come away with nothing from their encounter with Chelsea.

Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek gave Saints an unlikely 2-0 lead against the Blues, but an eight-minute flurry of goals from Eden Hazard and Olivier Giroud saw Chelsea clinch a 3-2 win.

Henry Browne/Getty Images Sport

Hughes spoke of how he was grateful to the Saints fans for staying behind after the game to applaud the players, as they came away from the defeat disappointed.

Clearly, we had a good response at the end of the game, even though we lost a game we should’ve taken something out of. That’s encouraging from our point of view, because we need everybody with us. If we continue to perform like that, we’ll get more results.

We, as a team, have to give the fans something to get behind and I think we did that from the first moment.

Southampton have been cut five points adrift of 17th place and win five games remaining, they must now step up.