REPORT: Arsenal 1-2 Southampton
Saints secured a place in the Capital One Cup Fourth Round with a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night.
After falling behind to Alexis Sánchez’s 14th-minute free-kick that bent into the top corner, debutant Sadio Mané won a penalty that allowed Dušan Tadić to bring the visitors back on terms with his first Southampton goal.
Nathaniel Clyne then paved a route for Ronald Koeman’s team into the next round in stunning fashion with a 30-yard drive that swerved past Arsenal’s ‘keeper David Ospina.
Amidst several early Arsenal forays that produced nothing in the final third, Saints carved a one-on-one opportunity in the tenth minute.
Tadić lifted the ball over the opposing defence for Steven Davis, but the midfielder’s first touch took the ball away slightly, meaning he could only prod at the torso of the onrushing Ospina.
Just a minute later in similar fashion, Jack Wilshere curled over Saints’ backline for Tomas Rosicky, who stretched to meet the ball with a header straight at Fraser Forster.
The visitors’ new custodian was powerless to prevent Arsenal’s next meaningful attempt, though – an unstoppable, 25-yard free-kick by Sánchez that was curled into the top-left corner.
The lead lasted just six minutes however, Mané’s movement drawing a foul from Rosicky just inside the box, leaving referee Keith Stroud no choice but to award a penalty.
Tadić assumed the spot-kick duties and dealt with the pressure exquisitely as he calmly swept straight down the middle of the net to register his first Saints goal.
Mané was afforded a sight of goal himself soon after when Graziano Pellè swiftly adjusted his body to side-foot through for the winger, who was caught up by Héctor Bellerin’s last-ditch challenge.
Pellè wasted no time when he was presented with a chance courtesy of Tadić’s pass ricocheting off Clyne’s leg, which enabled the Italian to swiftly spin and whip a shot that shaved the goalframe.
The tempo cooled somewhat as half-time approached, but Southampton were reluctant to head into the break on level terms.
An away corner was cleared to Clyne 30 yards from goal, and the full-back immediately set about controlling the ball and slamming a swerving effort that soared past Ospina and crashed into the net.
Arsenal provided a brief scare just a few minutes before the whistle, Wilshere sliding the ball through for Lukas Podolski to side-foot towards goal but the forward was thwarted by Forster’s arm directing the hit off-target at the near post.
Breathtaking interplay from Koeman’s outfit nearly produced a two-goal gap early into the second half. Matt Targett swiftly exchanged with Mané and the former’s cross was volleyed by Tadić back across goal for Davis to fire a low shot that Ospina smothered.
Fairly speculative claims were made by the hosts just before the hour mark when Joel Campbell tumbled in the box under Morgan Schneiderlin’s shoulder-to-shoudler challenge, and shouts for a penalty were ignored.
Tadić nearly rubbed salt in Arsenal’s wounds when he threatened to double his tally with a fizzing free-kick, although Ospina was equal to the set-piece that was destined for the bottom corner as Southampton searched for a more comfortable scoreline.
An end-to-end nature of the game began to develop as the final 20 minutes neared. Bellerin’s cross was scooped straight into the body of Forster by Sánchez before Mané’s audacious but powerful attempt from an acute angle came close to paying dividends as it flashed dangerously across the face of goal.
Arsenal began to pressure in the late stages but it was Southampton who came closest to netting a fourth goal of the game. Davis curled an inviting corner for the rising Pellè to meet with ease, only for the striker to nod agonisingly over.
Despite the Gunners’ desperation to snatch a goal back, Saints refused to be the subject of an onslaught and held on well to secure their spot in the next round of the competition.
Arsenal: David Ospina, Héctor Bellerin (Chuba Akpom 86), Calum Chambers, Isaac Hayden, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby (Santi Cazorla 66), Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 71), Alexis Sánchez. Unused substitutes: Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker, Emiliano Martínez, Semi Ajayi.
Goal: Sánchez (14)
Booking: Rosicky (88), Wilshere (90+2)
Southampton: Fraser Forster, Nathaniel Clyne, José Fonte, Florin Gardos, Matt Targett (Ryan Bertrand 85), Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Steven Davis, Dušan Tadić, Sadio Mané (Shane Long 73), Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis, Jack Cork, Emmanuel Mayuka, Harrison Reed, Jason McCarthy.
Goals: Tadić (20), Clyne (39)
Bookings: Wanyama (25), Forster (90+3), Pellè (90+3)