Sport Soccer

Sunday 21 October 2018

Hughes urges Saints to kick on in league after cup win

Wigan Athletic 0 Southampton 2

Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg celebrates after scoring the opening goal. Photo: Getty Images
Southampton's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg celebrates after scoring the opening goal. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

One journey ended as another began in treacherous conditions at the DW Stadium, with Wigan's hopes of another FA Cup fairy tale banished by Southampton.

Mark Hughes can look forward to leading out a team at Wembley for the first time in his 14 years as a club manager after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Cedric Soares's second-half goals secured a hard-fought win in the Welshman's first game in charge.

Wigan Athletic's Sam Morsy puts a challenge in on Southampton's Dusan Tadic. Photo: Getty Images
Wigan Athletic's Sam Morsy puts a challenge in on Southampton's Dusan Tadic. Photo: Getty Images

"Wembley will be a nice occasion," said Hughes, who has a contract until the end of the season. "I've been to a few semi-finals as a manager, but never quite made it to the final. We will enjoy it and take some positives out of it and hopefully it will help us in our league form as well."

Wigan were the better team in the first-half and two bad misses from Saints striker Manolo Gabbiadini underlined to Hughes the problems this team have had in front of goal.

However, there were positives to take and there was certainly a lot more fight from Southampton.

Galling

Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini is fouled by Wigan Athletic's Dan Burn. Photo: Getty Images
Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini is fouled by Wigan Athletic's Dan Burn. Photo: Getty Images

It was galling for Paul Cook, the Wigan manager, to see his side fall behind to a goal from a corner after the League One club had been unable to take advantage of so many similar set-pieces scenarios before then.

Dusan Tadic whipped in his corner and Hojbjerg reacted quickest, sweeping the ball low into the near-post corner past a flurry of bodies.

A careless back-pass from Nathan Byrne had presented Gabbiadini with a golden opportunity to score eight yards out in the 58th minute, but the Italy forward shot straight at Christian Walton.

In the 72nd minute Gabbiadini won a penalty after latching on to sub Nathan Redmond's fine through-ball and was hacked down by Dan Burn, but then saw his spot-kick saved by Walton.

Wigan Athletic's Christian Walton saves a penalty from Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini. Photo: Getty Images
Wigan Athletic's Christian Walton saves a penalty from Southampton's Manolo Gabbiadini. Photo: Getty Images

However, Southampton still held firm, with centre-backs Wesley Hoedt and Jack Stephens impressing.

The second goal arrived in stoppage-time when, after a breakaway from a Wigan corner, Redmond's ball deflected into the path of Soares, who sped away from his man before coolly steering the ball into the far corner.

"Our Premier League status is a huge concern to us and that is a big part of the remit I have. This was a game where we could take the maximum we needed in terms of positivity," Hughes said.

"We showed a lot of the qualities and traits a good team needs to show on a regular basis from a group of players who have maybe been hurt by the criticism of them."

Southampton manager Mark Hughes celebrates. Photo: Getty Images
Southampton manager Mark Hughes celebrates. Photo: Getty Images

© Daily Telegraph, London

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