FT 90 +6
Queens Park Rangers 45%
Queens Park Rangers 12
Queens Park Rangers 3
Queens Park Rangers 3
Queens Park Rangers 13
Referee : Roger East
Attendance : 18,082
Sadio Mané - 90+3’
- Match Report
- Teams & Interviews
QPR v Saints
Loftus Road, Saturday 7th February 2015
> The fourth Premier League away win in a row
> Saints back to third place in the League
Match Report :
At the end of a week in which Ronald Koeman firmly put Mauricio Pochettino in his place following the Argentine’s attempts to hoodwink the people of Catalonia into believing he was responsible for Saints’ eye-catching league position, it was ironic that Saints put in an away performance that bore more than a passing resemblance to one that a Pochettino Saints team would have produced. For all the dominance and possession, there was, however, one glaring difference; Koeman’s team managed to find a last minute goal to seal a 5th straight away win (League and Cup), meaning Saints were able to take 3 points home with them rather than just the footballing high-ground. Galant defeats have been replaced with cold, hard points.
A major reason for the similarity was the performance of Graziano Pellè, who is increasingly beginning to resemble Rickie Lambert on the football field. Until recently Pellè played his football firmly in the penalty box and this reaped scoring dividends. However, he is now being asked to come much deeper and wider in order to play the same pivot role that Lambert did so well in a Saints shirt.
While this new role is having a negative impact on Pellè’s own scoring record, it has allowed Saints’ play to evolve, which will be crucial in keeping the opposition guessing over the coming months. With both Eljero Elia and Sadio Mané fit and available to play alongside Pellè for the first time, both wide men were able to get beyond Pellè at will during the first half at Loftus Road. Indeed, Southampton’s first opportunity came from a perfect through-ball by Mané, which drew Rob Green from the QPR goal. Elia, running the right channel, lofted the ball over the advancing keeper but it drifted wide.
Other opportunities carved out by James Ward-Prowse set-pieces came and went, but in the meantime play was halted for a worryingly long time. Matt Targett, Saints’ only available left back, was out cold from a QPR elbow. He was stretchered off while Koeman, lamenting his limited options, moved Maya Yoshida to left back. Yoshida was little more than a placeholder for the next 70-odd minutes, admirably grinding it out in an unfamiliar role. But more about Yoshida later.
Without the balance of an attacking full back on both sides, Saints were able to keep possession, but mostly through pedestrian passing across the deep back four and central midfield. Twice, Sadio Mané was able to push past Pellè to forge chances for himself. The first time, he held on to the ball too long and the chance to shoot was gone, and the second time he learnt from this, hitting the ball first time but it sailed high and wide.
And so it was Mané’s ability to get into space in the channels that caught the eye. With such sights on goal, it was only a matter of time before the young Senegalese would score, and if Saints can continue to play in this way, with Pellè as the pivot and Mané and Elia consistently charging beyond, they have the tools required to unlock most Premier League defences. Sadio Mané’s form and fitness over the next few months will go a long way to deciding Southampton’s Champions League fate.
Mané, with the help of Yoshida, decided this game in the 93rd minute as Saints took advantage of holes in QPR’s defence, who themselves sought the winner. Winning possession in their own area, Southampton swarmed forward and Tadić was able to find Yoshida charging into space like a seasoned left-sided marauder. Yoshida’s first time pass into Mané was perfect, who strongly held off defensive attention to find the yard of space he needed to rifle the ball into the net. There was still time for QPR to find the net themselves, momentarily silencing the celebrating Saints faithful, but it was clear they had cheated in any number of different ways to get the ball there, so the ref blew first for a free-kick and then again for the final whistle. (Apparently, the Ref told Fonte that it had been disallowed, both for the foul on Forster and for the offside. Ed.)
With both Manchester clubs and Arsenal dropping points, Koeman’s Saints and Pochettino’s excellent and resurgent Spurs both strengthened their Champions League credentials. However, Pochettino cannot stake any claim to this Southampton victory, for it was very much a product of the extra persistence that Koeman has brought to the South Coast.
9th February 2015
Queens Park Rangers
01 Green, 15 Onuoha, 22 Dunne (Vargas - 83’ ), 04 Caulker, 06 Hill Booked, 07 Phillips, 10 Fer, 08 Barton Booked, 03 Traore (Isla - 73’ ), 27 Taarabt (Zárate - 63’ ), 09 Austin
12 McCarthy, 14 Isla, 19 Kranjcar, 20 Henry, 24 Vargas, 25 Zamora, 29 Zárate
23 Forster Booked, 02 Clyne, 06 Fonte, 03 Yoshida, 33 Targett (Gardos - 26’ ), 12 Wanyama (Schneiderlin - 61’ Booked ), 08 Davis, 16 Ward-Prowse, 10 Mané, 22 Elia (Tadic - 80’ ), 19 Pellè
01 Davis, 04 Schneiderlin, 05 Gardos, 11 Tadic, 28 Reed, 34 Flannigan, 45 Seager
Post-QPR game interview with a happy Ronald Koeman
Post match interview with Fraser Forster