Saints 2-1 Queen’s Park Rangers
After leaking four goals in each of their previous two away trips, QPR were expected to ‘park the bus’ at St. Mary’s, and that’s possibly why Mané made the starting XI at the expense of Long. Expectations proved correct, and after a big deflection caused a Tadić shot to hit the post, the visiting defence was hard to crack. On that basis, the team did well to create three very presentable first half chances, but Tadić, Pellè and Schneiderlin all failed to bring a save from Green.
A common criticism of Sr. Pochettino concerned a lack of new ideas when things were difficult, but Ronnie seems different and he was probably soon thinking in terms of bringing on Long for Mané; the trouble with that is you don’t have a second chance should Mané’s relative unpredictability be missed later on.
Anyway, we still had all the starters on the pitch come 54 minutes, and it was Mané who finally turned the key: an unexpected backheel setting up Bertrand for a low shot that beat Green at the near post. It looked as though a second goal couldn’t be far away, but desperate defence kept Saints out while Tadić was unable to force the ball past Green from close range.
We didn’t have to wait long for a goal, though, but it was at the wrong end, when Austin volleyed home after a first touch that couldn’t have been bettered. The goal itself was bettered, though, with Pellè also requiring a very good touch from subsitiute Long’s knock down before scoring with an acrobatic effort.
Again Saints should have consolidated the lead, but Davis and Long couldn’t beat Green, so a late free kick gave Kranjcar the chance of an equaliser. He very nearly took it, but his shot came back off the bar and Caulker made a mess of his follow-up header with the goal unguarded. Tadić wasted a final chance with a shot that clipped but post, but the run of wins extends to six – and a blow for Harry Redknapp to cap a happy afternoon. It’s Pochettino next!
LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand. OK, Pellès goal was better, but he’s paid to score, and that first half miss could have been crucial. Bertrand had one of his better defensive displays as well (although not seriously tested).