English Premiership

Mane's strike sends Saints third

2015-02-07 19:48
Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Queens Park Rangers. (AFP)

Cape Town - QPR suffered a dispiriting start to the post-Harry Redknapp era as Sadio Mane's last-gasp goal gave Southampton a 1-0 win at Loftus Road on Saturday.

After seven games without a win and four successive defeats, a frustrated Redknapp quit in midweek following QPR's failure to strengthen his squad in the transfer window.

Former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood has been strongly linked with the job, but it was Chris Ramsey who took charge on a caretaker basis against Southampton.

Ramsey coaxed a battling display from his team, but Mane's stoppage-time strike condemned the west Londoners to a frustrating loss that leaves them second from bottom of the Premier League.

Southampton climbed up to third place after a victory was the perfect response to Tottenham's win over Arsenal earlier in the day, which had temporarily knocked them out of the top four.

At the start of what may prove a brief reign, Ramsey recalled Moroccan forward Adel Taarabt, who had fallen out with Redknapp over his fitness, and also brought in Steven Caulker, Armand Traore and Matt Phillips.

But Ronald Koeman's made a bright start and Graziano Pelle's long-range strike brought QPR goalkeeper Rob Green into action for the first time in the fifth minute.

Green almost gifted Saints the lead when he needlessly rushed off his line after Victor Wanyama sent Mane through, but the Senegal winger's chip drifted wide of the far post.

There was a serious blow for Saints when Matt Targett was stretchered off with his neck in a brace following lengthy treatment after the left-back was injured going for a high ball with Matt Phillips.

Southampton went close when Portuguese defender Jose Fonte hit the bar with a volley from a corner, while Eljero Elia took a painful kick in the groin from QPR's Richard Dunne as the burly defender tried to hack clear.

Mane was harshly ruled offside when he would have been clean through early in the second half and at the other end QPR defender Armand Traore headed into the side-netting as the hosts finally showed signs of life.

QPR were pressing harder and Phillips picked out Mauro Zarate at the far post, but the substiute's shot was straight at Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Charlie Austin almost broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when he diverted Joey Barton's shot goalward from close range but Forster pushed the ball over.

It was Southampton who stole the points deep into stoppage time when Mane wriggled around Steven Caulker and drilled his shot into the top corner.

There was time for more late drama as QPR had the ball in the net before the final whistle blew, but a linesman's flag ruled out the goal.


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