Southampton stuns Man United to go third in Premier League
A Southampton shirt had to be scrambled from the dressing room before the forgetful Dusan Tadic could enter the Old Trafford pitch.
Within minutes it was being ripped off again as the second-half substitute celebrated scoring the goal that gave Southampton its first win at Manchester United in 27 years on Sunday.
“When I wanted to come on, the shirt and shin pads were not there (in the dugout), but I don’t know what happened,” Tadic said after clinching the 1-0 victory. “This isn’t important. It’s important we won.”
It ended United’s 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, and Ronald Koeman’s side dislodged the hosts — managed by fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal — from third place.
“They came for a draw I believe and they go away with a victory — and that is disappointing,” Van Gaal said. “We didn’t create so many chances in spite of dominating the game.”
And Arsenal is only a point behind fourth-place United after Alexis Sanchez scored two and created one in a 3-0 victory over Stoke in the day’s other game.
The standings are led by Chelsea on 49 points with Manchester City two points behind. Southampton is eight points adrift of City on 39, but in an elevated position that was unthinkable when the south-coast team was among the teams being tipped for relegation in August.
For now the team that lost so many of its stars in the offseason, the prospect of Champions League qualification becomes a slightly more realistic proposition each week.
And this was a victory against a United side with most of its key players back from injury. So much so that Radamel Falcao was left out of the matchday squad.
Tadic’s goal came in the 69th, around five minutes after eventually coming off the bench.
The Serbia midfielder first set up Graziano Pelle for a shot that hit the post and was then alert enough to send the rebound into the net with the game’s only shot on target.
Tadic was booked for his celebration, taking off his shirt and flexing his muscles in front of the cameras.
“He scored the winner, it’s fantastic,” Koeman said. “But the rest I don’t like.”
Southampton has recovered from a run of four successive losses late in 2014, with back-to-back league wins in the New Year — starting against Arsenal.
The Gunners hit back, though, against Stoke on Sunday.
Sanchez’s cross was headed in by Laurent Koscielny inside six minutes, and the Chile forward was on target in the 33rd after completing a one-two with Tomas Rosicky.
A free kick from Sanchez four minutes into the second half went through the wall and the ball was pushed onto the post by goalkeeper Asmir Begovic before going into the net.
It took his tally to 18 goals since joining in July from Barcelona for around $60 million.
“The better the team plays, the more he is involved in the game,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We had a very offensive team today and Sanchez is confident. We can be direct with him, you can run at people a bit more, so there is a good combination offensively.”