English Premiership

Mane lifts Saints into 2nd place

2014-10-25 19:44
Ronald Koeman (Supplied)
Ronald Koeman (Supplied)

Southampton - Senegal winger Sadio Mane fired Southampton to a 1-0 win over Stoke that lifted his team into second place in the Premier League on Saturday.

Ronald Koeman's side had romped to an 8-0 demolition of Sunderland in their previous fixture and while the performance against gritty Stoke at St Mary's wasn't so eye-catching, the reward was the same.

Mane's first-half strike proved the difference and, remarkably after such a turbulent close-season marked by the departure of manager Mauricio Pochettino and five key players, Southampton have made a better start than the 1983-84 season when they finished second in the English top-flight.

As well as Mane's cool finish, the key to Southampton's success was their rock solid defence, which has conceded only five league goals this season and held out for another clean sheet against a Stoke side they will face again in the League Cup on Wednesday.

Mane was the only change to the side that routed Sunderland and he made a lively start, with Graziano Pelle just unable to turn home his cross-shot at the far post.

Southampton were pushing forward with pace and poise and Pelle directed his shot into the side-netting when Mane escaped down the right again.

Saints midfielder Dusan Tadic would have capped another fine display with another goal but for a fine, low save by Asmir Begovic.

The Serbian, fresh from providing a record-equalling four assists last week, then laid off for Morgan Schneiderlin, who rattled the crossbar from the edge of the area.

Koeman's side took the lead in the 33rd minute when Pelle's shot came back off the post and Mane did brilliantly to fire home the rebound off the underside of the bar

Try as they might, Saints were unable to find a second before half-time, from which they returned strongly as Pelle again hit the woodwork with a powerful header from a Tadic cross.

Tadic shook off a back complaint to swivel in the area and roll an effort wide in the 66th minute, before turning provider with a corner which Pelle could only direct across the face of goal.

It was another wasted opportunity, leaving the hosts susceptible to a late Stoke comeback.

Mame Diouf's introduction as a substitute had given Stoke more of an attacking threat and, after having penalty appeals waved away, he came close to latching onto a raking Phil Bardsley cross.

Defending in numbers during the closing stages, Southampton breathed a deep sigh of relief when Stoke substitute Marko Arnautovic struck wide in stoppage time.

Read more on:    southampton  |  englis premiership  |  soccer

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