We’re paying tribute to former Southampton star Sadio Mané on his 29th birthday, as we relive his finest moments in a Saints shirt…
5. Leaving it late at Loftus Road
7th February 2015
This last-gasp winner strengthened Saints’ position in the Premier League’s top four with just three months of the season to go. Captain José Fonte volleyed against the bar in the first half for Ronald Koeman’s team, who were pressing for a breakthrough more and more as the clock ticked down. Cue a moment of brilliance from Mané, who received Maya Yoshida’s pass inside the penalty area with his back to goal in the 93rd minute. Turning sharply away from defender Nedum Onuoha, the forward found enough space to send an unstoppable left-footed shot arrowing across goalkeeper Robert Green and just underneath the crossbar, sparking scenes of jubilation in the upper tier behind Green’s goal.
4. Defying the angles against Arsenal
1st January 2015
What a way to welcome in the new year, as Mané registered Saints’ first goal of 2015 in spectacular fashion. Latching on to James Ward-Prowse’s chipped pass over the top, he raced in behind Laurent Koscielny and beat goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to the ball. In doing so, however, Mané forced himself wide, and had his back to the byeline as he turned to keep it in play. As Koscielny, Szczesny and Per Mertesacker retreated, the Senegalese opted against cutting the ball back for Graziano Pellè and instead went for goal himself, scoring from an improbable angle with his less-favoured left foot – an early sign of his undoubted talent.
3. Putting City to the sword
1st May 2016
When a Premier League hat-trick against Man City is only third on the list, it just underlines Mané’s whirlwind contribution to Saints over his two-season stay. Koeman’s men signed off the 2015/16 campaign in style, with four wins in a row to secure a sixth-place finish, scoring 14 goals in the process. Four of those came in the club’s penultimate home game, against Champions League semi-finalists Man City. First Mané latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Dušan Tadić to squeeze a low shot inside Joe Hart’s near post, before reacting quickest to Virgil van Dijk’s header against the crossbar for a close-range second. Again Tadić was the provider for his third, threading another low pass from which Mané celebrated a St Mary’s hat-trick in May for the second season running.
2. Completing the comeback against Liverpool
20th March 2016
One of the most memorable matches in St Mary’s’ 19-year history was played out in the spring of 2016. Jürgen Klopp was new to the job as Liverpool manager and had the visitors playing some enterprising counter-attacking football, illustrated by two fine first-half goals from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge that left Saints with a mountain to climb. Their cause was not helped by Mané’s missed penalty early in the second half, but a change of pace left Mamadou Sakho trailing in his wake as he made amends to halve the deficit in the 64th minute. Twenty minutes later, Saints levelled the scores through Pellè, paving the way for Mané to complete his personal redemption story with a dramatic winner four minutes from time.
1. Rewriting the Premier League record books
16th May 2015
Another real “I was there” moment courtesy of Saints’ former number 10, who stunned Aston Villa in the final home game of his debut season. The game was goalless until Mané converted the rebound from his own shot, benefiting from a fortunate ricochet to break the deadlock in the 13th minute. Three minutes later, Saints were 3-0 up and the game was all but over. His second owed much to the willingness of Shane Long, who collided with compatriot Shay Given in pouncing on a short back-pass, allowing Mané to double his tally. Then Long squared the ball from the left for the third, which was the pick of the bunch – a firm side-footed finish that sailed into the top corner from 15 yards. The hat-trick was officially clocked at two minutes and 56 seconds, and Saints ran out 6-1 winners.