Che Adams scored his first goal for Southampton a year after joining the club in 1-0 victory
Last Updated: 05/07/20 11:17pm
Ralph Hasenhuttl said Southampton’s display in their 1-0 win over Manchester City was the best his side has produced at St Mary’s during his 18 months at the club.
Che Adams scored his first goal for Saints, a year after joining the club, with a stunning long-range strike as they beat the dethroned champions City to condemn Pep Guardiola’s side to a third successive away loss in the Premier League.
The result moved Southampton up to 13th, and Hasenhuttl was effusive in his praise of his players following only their fifth home win of the season.
“You have to be brave and have a bit of luck,” the Austrian said afterwards. “We showed a lot of passion and we got what we deserved. The goal means a lot to Che and also to us. He has really deserved this goal and he worked hard throughout.
“Sometimes, it’s not possible to get something and I don’t just want to talk about one player as there were a lot of good performances.
“You could always feel the belief and the game plan of allowing them possession and breaking on the counter-attack worked well. Every win is important – we were last in the home rankings and this was by far the best performance we’ve had here since I was a manager and it had to be in order for us to win.”
Southampton have won 11 points against the league’s traditional ‘big six’ in the Premier League this season – only Wolves (12) have won more.
Their latest triumph was built on an unshakeable resistance to 26 shots from their opponents, and the Saints only had 27 per cent possession as they took advantage of the two drinks stoppages to regain their composure.
“We had a very good week and we wanted the players to be brave in possession,” Hasenhuttl added. “I was sometimes shouting ‘more possession’ but we had a few chances for the second goal while the opponent had a lot of chances. It’s a fantastic result for us.
“The drinks breaks gave us a breather so they were fantastic for us.”
Pep: We made one mistake and were punished
Second-placed City, who beat champions Liverpool 4-0 in their last outing, came up against a Southampton goalkeeper in Alex McCarthy who was in inspired form.
He saved a powerful drive from Raheem Sterling, a goal-bound header from David Silva – after Fernandinho struck the post – and then kept out Riyad Mahrez with his feet.
While neither side had much at stake in the game, both fought for the points as if everything was on the line, and Guardiola admitted the outcome was the story of City’s season.
“It was a really good performance but it was a résumé of this season,” said Guardiola, who has never lost three straight away league games before in his managerial career.
“We made a mistake and they punished us. We’ve lost a lot of games like this, and if you do that you can’t compete to win the Premier League.”
Guardiola defended his use of his goalkeeper Ederson like a libero on the edge of his box, which Hasenhuttl said he had targeted prior to the match and ultimately led to Adams’ goal.
“We use our goalkeeper in the build-up to play better,” the Catalan added. “The mistake was part of the game, but we didn’t lose because of that reason.
“He gives us a lot to play better, but we have to improve. This has happened many times this season. The number of chances that we had, we have to try to score more goals.
“We’ve scored the most goals in the Premier League and we’ve created a lot of chances this season, but we’ve lost a lot of games. It’s hard even for me to find a reason why, but we have to look at the way we play and try to concede as few as possible. In the games we’ve lost, we’ve been more than good, but it’s not been enough.
“I still have confidence in the players as it is the same people who have won titles in the past. The way we’re playing this season is quite similar but we’ve been losing games like we didn’t even do in the past three seasons.”