Thursday 14 December 2017

Centurion Long bags late winner for Southampton

Southampton's Shane Long Picture: Reuters / Dylan Martinez
Southampton's Shane Long Picture: Reuters / Dylan Martinez

Tom Rooney

Ireland striker Shane Long marked his 100th appearance for Southampton by scoring a stoppage time winner in their FA Cup third round replay against Norwich.

It can be safely assumed that the ecstatic celebrations that greeted Long's winner in the 1-0 victory were not solely prompted by the prospect of an FA Cup fourth round tie against Arsenal.

For many at St Mary's, it must also have been relief that they would not be subjected to another 30 minutes of a match that amounted to powerful evidence for abolishing FA Cup replays.

And those 13,000 fans who had bothered to inflate an attendance that was still less than half the capacity suffered in the cold. There was no magic. No romance. Just an occasion that, for the players of both Claude Puel and Alex Neil, had the feel of a training exercise.

Long pounced after missing a header that looked easier to score and his bundled winner brought relief all round.

In last night's other tie, Jonjo Shelvey returned from his five-game ban to mastermind Newcastle's progression to the FA Cup fourth round with a 3-1 replay victory over Birmingham with Matt Richie netting twice.

In Spain, despite the rare Copa Del Rey presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid lost the first leg of their quarter-final 2-1 against Celta Vigo.

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