Mane hails Saints display
Published 17/05/2015 | 12:11
Sadio Mane's delight was as clear as it was understandable after setting Southampton on course for a memorable victory with the fastest ever Premier League hat-trick.
Saints' impressive season had looked to be petering out, only for it to set alight as they ran amok against FA Cup finalists Aston Villa at St Mary's.
Shane Long's brace and a Graziano Pelle volley helped Ronald Koeman's side to a wonderful 6-1 win, although it was Mane's quick-fire treble which provided the main talking point.
The Senegal international went from opening the scoring to completing his hat-trick in two minutes and 56 seconds - the quickest in Premier League history, beating the record of four minutes and 33 seconds set by Liverpool's Robbie Fowler in 1994 against Arsenal.
"I'm happy," Mane said. "If you see the last few weeks, it has not been easy, but you have to accept it - that's football.
"We just tried to give our best in training to work hard, and finally we've got the rewards.
"I think we did a great performance, because we worked together as a team.
"Everybody was very, very focused on working together."
Mane's hat-trick was the catalyst for a timely win for Southampton in the race for European qualification.
It saw Saints move on to a best ever Premier League points tally of 60 and Mane was quick to praise fellow star man Long.
The Ireland international provided two assists and his second goal was a late contender for goal of the season, having beaten Shay Given with a curling 40-yard strike.
"Thank you to him because he did a good job with a great performance," Mane told Southampton's official YouTube channel.
"I'm happy for him today because he scored two goals for the team - his second was a nice goal, unbelievable - and he always works hard in training.
"I'm very happy. It's important to score for the team but I am just happy that the team won for the fans - they're always amazing, unbelievable. Everybody is happy."
Fortunately for Villa, the fact Hull lost 2-0 at Tottenham meant their safety was assured just a few hours later - welcome news to Tim Sherwood after a gut-wrenching first half at St Mary's.
"It's hard," the Villa boss said. "It's difficult. You feel it in your stomach. You feel sick.
"There's not a lot you can do about it. You have to be professional. You have to realise you've got a job to do to try and help as best you can.
"At half-time we just tried to calm them down and just make them aware that it wasn't good enough which they were all aware of. They're not stupid and to make sure that we tried to get some pride out of the second period."