Saints boss Ronald Koeman was delighted to see his side progress in the Capital One Cup after a ‘difficult cup tie’ against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
Koeman’s side led 2-0 through Graziano Pellè and Shane Long, but Stoke rallied in the second half to draw level at 2-2, only for Pellè to snatch the win for Saints late on.
The Dutchman admitted his side were made to battle in the second half by Mark Hughes’ side, but was thrilled to see them come out on top.
“It was an important win because we would like to go on in the Capital One Cup,” Koeman added. “It’s difficult because it was the second time against the same opponent.
“I think we played well in the first half without any problems, but after it went 2-1 it was more difficult. They were very physical, it was a real cup game with a lot happening.
“We had to kill the game. We had two big chances after it went 2-1 to make a third goal, but it was real cup football and it ended with a great result for us.
“Of course we were concerned [in the second half], the football was direct and it was all about fighting for the second ball. It was a battle in the midfield.
“That is one of their qualities and they showed good spirit in the second half, but even at 2-2, I think the team was okay and we scored the third goal which was the winner.”
Saints now face an away tie against Sheffield United in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup, and Koeman says he’s hoping his side can go all the way.
“We would like to get to the final and we would like to win this cup,” he added. “It’s a European place for next season and we will do everything for that.
“I didn’t make a lot of changes but sometimes you need to do that with injuries. We are in a good way. The lads are showing great ambition, they will be tired but if you’re winning you’re not so tired!”