Saints 8-0 Sunderland
As the whole football world must be aware of the eventual result, it may seem odd to read that Saints started slowly, indeed sloppily, against Sunderland. We needed something to break out of a post international break stupor, and that lift was improbably provided by visiting fullback Vergini who lashed in a spectacular own goal that had to be seen to be believed.
Sunderland’s defending verged on the calamitous throughout and they contributed a lot to Southampton’s second when Buckley’s clearance hit Larsson in the back and fell for Davis who coolly provided a low cross for Pellè to score one of the simplest strikes in his prolific run of form. It was proving to be an easy stroll in the mild weather for Saints, and they certainly seemed to be sitting back when Fletcher was allowed a clear run on goal; the attack ended with the forward on his back, courtesy of Forster’s challenge, but only after the ball had been prodded past the post. The correct decision would probably have been ‘penalty,’ and not a sending off, but referee Marriner decided against either.
It didn’t take too long for Saints to render any arguments immaterial with a goal that owed a lot to some skilful play from Tadić on the left and a good bit to poor marking and goalkeeping as well when Cork forced the ball home.
Manager Poyet replaced his centre half at the break, presumably in a desperate move to save the game. This defence-lite tactic leaves gaps at the back, and Saints looked highly likely to extend the lead before Poyet burned his boats with two more attacking substitutions just before a fourth goal that would have made damage limitation a more pragmatic approach. This one was set up by Bertrand for Pellè, but it seems to have been credited as a Bridcutt o.g. after the player’s comical and unsuccessful attempt to clear off the line – an own goal so far, anyway, but Pellè is contesting things.
It was back to a Tadić assist to Pellè for number five, this one finished in some style, and then Tadić himself got on the scoreboard after a dreadful clearance from shell-shocked ‘keeper Mannone fell straight to him, the ball stroked home from some 30 yards out. With Sunderland offering as much resistance as butter to a hot knife, Tadić chose substitute Wanyama to set up for the next goal, and then brought another sub, Mané, into the festival for number eight.
There was still plenty of time for Saints to not only eclipse their match scoring record (9-3 v. Wolves) but also join Manchester United and Spurs as the only teams to notch nine Premier League goals in a game. Had they known they had a chance to make history, maybe a they could have taken a bit more care over what continued to come their way as the visitors were only getting any sort of possession from their frequent kick offs – still, we’d all have settled for eight before the game, wouldn’t we?
LSSC Man of the Match: Dušan Tadić. I think Pellè did enough to get the credit for goal number four, and therefore a hat trick, but he’s still outshone by Tadić’s four (yes four) assists and a goal.