Saturday 18 November 2017

Potters leave Saints' dream in tatters

Stoke City 2 Southampton 1

Stoke City's Mame Diouf (left) scores his side's equaliser at the Britannia
Stoke City's Mame Diouf (left) scores his side's equaliser at the Britannia
Morgan Schneiderlin gives Southampton the lead at Stoke
Stoke City's Marko Arnautovic curls a freekick over the Southampton wall
Southampton's Toby Alderweireld lies injured

Paul Hirst

Ronald Koeman acknowledged that Southampton's Champions League dreams are all but over after defeat to Stoke.

The visitors took a deserved lead in the first half through Morgan Schneiderlin, but the Potters equalised through Mame Diouf following an error by Southampton goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and Charlie Adam snatched all three points for the hosts six minutes from time.

Saints could have moved within two points of fourth-placed Manchester City with victory, but they remain in sixth - five points behind the league champions, who play West Ham today.

Koeman was determined to lead Southampton to Champions League qualification for the first time in their history this season, but he has downgraded his target following this loss at the Britannia Stadium.

"The distance to fourth place is five points. Maybe (today) it will be eight," the Dutchman said. "We are fighting for a Europa League place - that's our Champions League. You have to see it like that.

"It's very difficult to beat the big ones in Premier League because of the players they have and can buy," he said. "Still, I think we are in a very good position. We know our level."

Koeman's opposite number Mark Hughes was happy to end a winless four-match run and hailed Adam, who lashed home the winner from 10 yards after Jose Fonte had blocked Jon Walters' shot in the box.

"It's great technique," the Stoke manager said of the Scot. "He knows exactly what he is doing. He has hit it into the ground and that has made it even harder for the keeper to save it."

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