Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Solskjaer hopes for grand finale

Southampton 0 Cardiff 1

Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga of Southampton punches clear from the head of Fraizer Campbell of Cardiff
Goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga of Southampton punches clear from the head of Fraizer Campbell of Cardiff
Kim Bo-Kyung of Cardiff is challenged by Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton
Steven Davies of Southampton battles with Fabio (L) and Cala (R) of Cardiff
Steven Davies of Southampton shoots on goal ahead of the challenge of Fabio of Cardiff
Fraizer Campbell of Cardiff is pursued by Dejan Lovren of Southampton

Simon Peach

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Cardiff's smash-and-grab victory, secured with a wonderful strike from the unlikely source of centre-back Juan Cala, can act as the catalyst to a great escape.

Arriving on the south coast with the worst away record in the Premier League, few could have foreseen the Bluebirds leaving with a point, let alone three. It was only Solskjaer's third league win at the helm and one which still leaves his side 19th in the standings, but now just three points from safety.

"It was a good performance," the Cardiff boss said. "We've had some very good performances before that I've been proud of, but today, of course, we got that little bit of luck that you need in a game.

"They were all fantastic. They all did their jobs. It's not just the 11, it's the subs as well, even ones that don't come on and it's the ones that travel.

"We have four games to go. Fulham, Swansea, Norwich and West Brom are still in it with us, but we've just got to do our job."

Next up for Cardiff is a home clash with Stoke, while Saints travel to Aston Villa fresh from a frustrating home defeat.

Saints' dominance was highlighted by the fact they had 68 per cent possession, with this match just the sixth time Mauricio Pochettino's side have failed to score in a league game this season.

"What happened is that we didn't score a goal," the Saints boss said. "We created many chances, but we lacked a clinical edge that we actually needed to win the game. I think it was the easiest game we've had in terms of possession.

"We had loads of possession but in the end it's a steep learning curve when you realise that all that possession is useless when you don't score a goal, and that's what we learned."

The match was Southampton's first since Jay Rodriguez was ruled out for six months with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.

Saints showed their support for the England international by wearing number nine shirts ahead of a game in which his absence was clear.

"When you lose, you always miss the players that are out," Pochettino said. "That always happens."

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