Sunday 15 December 2019

QPR flailing as Saints go marching into second

Southampton 2 QPR 1

Southampton's Ryan Bertrand celebrates their victory over QPR with his team-mates. Julian Finney/Getty Images
Southampton's Ryan Bertrand celebrates their victory over QPR with his team-mates. Julian Finney/Getty Images
QPR's Charlie Austin celebrates scoring their first goal. Julian Finney/Getty Images
Southampton's Morgan Schneiderlin puts pressure on Leroy Fer of QPR during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Queens Park Rangers at St Mary's Stadium. Julian Finney/Getty Images

Nick Szczepanik

The two spectacular goals at St Mary's drew contrasting reactions from the scorers' managers.

Saints' Ronald Koeman was delighted with Graziano Pelle and his rapid adjustment to the demands of the Premier League after his £8m summer move from Feyenoord, where he and Koeman worked together. Harry Redknapp bemoaned the fact that if Charlie Austin does not score for his QPR team, nobody does.

"He scored a lot of goals for me at Feyenoord but this one was amazing, how he scored and the moment in the game," Koeman said of Pelle's winner, an overhead volley of imagination and stunning technique that lifted Southampton into second. "But apart from how he scores goals it's important that the player has shown his qualities. He is learning fast.

"In the first two weeks I told him, 'It's not Holland'. In Holland if you bring 70pc of your physical effort you will win the battle. In the Premier League you have to bring more than 100pc. He's doing that."

Pelle's own analysis of the goal, created by a headed pass from playmaker Dusan Tadic - another Koeman summer import from Holland - revealed a promising understanding to rival that of Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert, now both at Liverpool.

"Usually Dusan, when the ball comes to him, he uses his body to bring it onto his left [foot], but I saw him make a small look on my side," Pelle said. "I just felt that he was going to pass to me with the head.

"I expected it and I scored an amazing goal."

Aged 29, Pelle even has hopes of a place in the Italy squad after being named in a preliminary panel by Antonio Conte, the head coach.

"I believe in myself, so if I was not even inside a small thought of the trainer it would be strange," he said.

"I'm doing well and I know by myself when I deserve something, when not. But for me now the focus is to do good with Southampton and if it will come, I am going to be super-happy."

Redknapp was subdued after an away performance that showed vast improvement on successive 4-0 defeats at Tottenham and Man Utd but brought no reward bar Austin's instant control of a cross by Eduardo Vargas and volleyed finish, his second of the season but only his team's fourth.

"You look at last year and Charlie got 17 goals and no one else got anywhere near," Redknapp said. "We lost a lot of goals when [Loïc] Rémy left on the Saturday before the deadline and you are hoping Matty Phillips and Vargas and Junior Hoilett will weigh in. The midfield's got to score some goals otherwise we will not score enough - that is the problem."

Ryan Bertrand opened the scoring for Saints when he drilled a shot underneath Green from a backheel from Mane.

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