Thursday 19 April 2018

Koeman hails defence after 10-man Southampton hold out

Southampton 1-0 West Ham

Maya Yoshida slots home Southampton's winning goal. Photo: Reuters
Maya Yoshida slots home Southampton's winning goal. Photo: Reuters
Southampton's Charlie Austin and Shane Long (right) celebrate their side's win. Photo: PA
Referee Mark Clattenburg shows a red card to Southampton's Victor Wanyama. Photo: Reuters

Andy Sims

Southampton held on to an early goal from Maya Yoshida to edge out West Ham despite Victor Wanyama's red card. Saints had to play for the majority of the second half with 10 men after Wanyama's dismissal - his third of the season - for a tackle on Dimitri Payet. Payet was starting to exert his influence after the break when, in the 53rd minute he skipped away from Wanyama in the centre-circle only to be chopped down from behind by the Saints' midfield enforcer. The challenge enraged Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, who had seen his key playmaker sidelined for three months by a similar tackle by Everton's James McCarthy earlier in the season.

Referee Mark Clattenburg took his time to make a decision, initially appearing to reach for a yellow card, but he eventually settled on a straight red as the former Celtic midfielder pleaded his innocence.

But West Ham could not find a way past a Saints rearguard which has now kept five consecutive clean sheets, with goalkeeper Fraser Forster yet to concede in seven and a half hours since he returned from a long-term injury.

In truth Forster had little to do, although when he was called upon to keep out a powerful Winston Reid header, he was equal to the task.

"They've (Southampton defence) made it easy since I came back. When we get on the ball we've got players that are so comfortable," said Forster. "I think we've picked up a lot of points, which is brilliant. I've got 10 players in front of me, which is awesome."

West Ham keeper Adrian was straight into the action, by contrast, and he pulled off a fine point-black save to keep out Cedric Soares' header from Shane Long's cross. Yoshida's goal came in the ninth minute after the visitors failed to deal with a corner. Wanyama charged into the area and prodded the ball into the path of Yoshida to sweep past Adrian from close range.

"I'm very pleased with the final result. It was a difficult game from the start, more difficult after the red card to Wanyama. But even with one less on pitch we had the best chances to score a second one," said Southampton manager Ronald Koeman.

"You can't do that tackle. It's a hard tackle. You give the referee the possibility to give the red card. We showed very good defensive composure, good defending. I don't remember one big chance (for West Ham)."

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