Dusan Tadic

Southampton 1-0 West Brom: Amazing Boufal goal leads Saints

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  • Boufal’s solo goal wins it
  • Saints outshoot WBA 20-7
  • WBA winless since August

Sofiane Boufal‘s magnificent goal off the bench helped Southampton break down West Bromwich Albion for a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints go 10th with the win, on 12 points, while West Brom drops to 13th. The Baggies’ 10 points are two clear of the drop zone.

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Ryan Bertrand cranked a deflected free kick off the bar in the 18th minute, as Saints had plenty of possession.

Manolo Gabbiadini dribbled 50-plus yards before cuing up Shane Long for a shot pushed wide of the near post.

There were a pair of handball shouts in the box at either end, with Salomon Rondon and Dusan Tadic both lucky to escape the view of officials.

Ben Foster made a terrific slap save on Maya Yoshida‘s headed corner as the match neared halftime, and Yoshida missed the far post with an overhead kick off the ensuing effort.

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Both teams looked fairly content with a point in the early stages of the second half, Kieran Gibbs‘ header a rare bit of action for Saints backstop Fraser Forster.

The 72nd minute saw a probable but uncalled penalty to Tadic, who made a magnificent run into the box and saw himself into a tangle with Jonas Lossl.

Maybe that snapped the match to life, and Nacer Chadli cranked a shot off the top pipe.

Saints looked dangerous, and Tony Pulis packed his men in his own end in search of an away point and nothing more.

That backfired when Boufal scored his wonderful solo goal.

Some editorializing, if you’ll allow it:

Dusan Tadic: From Serbia to Southampton, this is my story

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(Dusan Tadic talking to Joe Prince-Wright)

When I was growing up as a kid in Serbia, I had always dreamed of this moment. Last week we did it. We qualified for the World Cup. When you play for your country, everyone remembers you if you play in a World Cup. It is that simple.

I remember the 1998 World Cup when we were Yugoslavia, I had the sticker albums of all the players and I still remember that squad and who was playing.

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It is very nice to be there, at the World Cup, and we need to try and go step by step and see how far we can get. A lot of people are saying we can provide some surprises and not much is expected of us, but we don’t see it like that.

With Serbia, there will always be pressure.

We are the kind of players and people who do not know how to live without pressure. Even if we play against Brazil or some of the other bigger countries, we think we are better than them. That is the way we are. People expect us to beat the big teams and we have plenty of pressure from within.

It has always been that way, lots of pressure, but at the start it was all much simpler…


HOW IT ALL BEGAN

There were a lot of kids, everywhere, and we were always playing outside in the streets.

I think this is the best way to learn football, to play with your friends, street football, looking back, those are wonderful memories and I look back on that time in my life fondly.

My hometown, Backa Topola, was in the north of the country near the Hungarian border. It is a nice part of Serbia and I am very happy I grew up there.

Growing up, one of my best memories is getting my first pair of boots. There were Adidas and one of my fathers friends gave them to me. They were a special present and I wore them all the time. When it came to my first shirt, well, this was a little interesting. My father likes Partizan Belgrade and my uncle, well, he likes Red Star Belgrade. They are huge rivals and they would always get me a shirt from each club. Ah man, that was rough.

The shirt I held closest to my heart is one I had when I was 13. It was the shirt from the 1998 World Cup that Yugoslavia wore and had Predrag Mijatovic’s name on the back. You remember that shirt, the one with the big collar?  We did really well in that tournament and I wore that shirt everywhere. I still have it somewhere at home.

Our country has gone through a lot of tough times, especially when I was growing up, but I think playing football gave myself and other kids at the time an escape from everything else that was going on. Those were tough times.

When it is like this, it is important that kids play football or another sport because you are in nicer situations and have positive vibes around you. Because if you don’t play sport at times like that, I don’t know what you would do.

I am very happy I grew up in Serbia. You can have tough times, good times, but you learn a lot. I am incredibly proud of where I am from.

My father, that’s where my love for the game comes from. He watched every single game I played in growing up. He still does now. All of my family and friends, they would come to watch me and their support was incredible.

Every coach I’ve had, even if something was wrong, you still learn something from every single one of them. I am very lucky to have had so many good coaches over the years who I tried to learn from.

My idol growing up was Zinedine Zidane. I tried to learn from him. He did everything to perfection. Everything was easy for him. I loved watching him. He was a genius.

Not just the way he played but I also like his personality, the calmness he has off the pitch and the way he carries himself. After I watched him on TV I would go straight out into the street in Serbia to try and play like him.

I was lucky that I moved to a team like Vojvodina at the age of 14. They are known to have the best academy in Serbia, so there are many similarities to how things are here at Southampton with an emphasis on bringing through young talent.

Vojvodina always gave young players a chance and by the time I was 16 I was in the first team and then we went to the Europa League and it was a great time for me with wonderful coaches who pushed me to my maximum. I’m pleased that the pressure was so high when I started off there. That made me into the player I am today and helped me want to succeed and get better.

When I then moved to Holland, at the beginning I was looking around like “why is everyone so relaxed?” I was confused. After you lost a game, everyone was laughing and everything. If you did that in Serbia, that would be a big problem.

It took me time to adapt to the less intense atmosphere in Holland but I played with, and against, some great players who ended up with me here at Southampton. Graziano Pelle and Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord and then a young Virgil Van Dijk was just coming into the first team in my second year at Groningen.

When I played in the Netherlands, the league was very strong but a lot of players have left the Eredivisie and they are struggling a little with a lot of young players coming through.

But when I look back at my time in Holland with Groningen and FC Twente, this was the most important period of my life. I was at that stage when I had to grow as a player and a person. I am happy I was there. Holland has a philosophy of football which links up with how I like to play.

I learned a lot and it prepared me well for the challenge at Southampton.


SETTING RECORDS IN SUNNY SOUTHAMPTON

It wasn’t always my aim to come to England but everyone thinks about the Premier League because it is one of the strongest leagues in the world.

You want to show yourself in the strongest league and this was the right moment.

I knew back in 2014 that Ronald Koeman really wanted me. Southampton are a nice club with great supporters and I came here with a lot of new players in that summer of 2014 and some people expected a lot from me, but that didn’t bother me because as a player you have to trust in your qualities and show yourself and help your club.

After 2014 we had the two most successful years in Southampton’s history. Everyone was proud of that and I was pleased to be a part of it.

I have so many great memories here at Southampton. I’m in my fourth season and I have a strong connection with the fans who sing my song and support me no matter what.

From the first moment they accepted me very well. I try my best to entertain and make them happy and to give them joy. A lot of people come to watch and support you as a player so you need to try to give them enjoyment. Ii try to entertain.

I live in a marina called Ocean Village in Southampton and it doesn’t feel like you’re in England. When you say to people “oh, I live in England” everyone is like “it is rainy and cold there, why are you doing that?”

But Southampton is not like that. It is not like the rest of England. Here the weather is very good (at least compared to the rest of England!) and every day I am happy for that. Trust me.

So far we’ve had a lot of success but when I sit back and think about all of the good times we’ve had since I arrived, my winning goal at Old Trafford against Manchester United back in 2015 is the best.

We hadn’t beaten United away from home for 28 years and it was my first time playing at Old Trafford. I will never forget that moment. Ever.

Our aim here at Southampton, and my aim, is to get us back to Europe.

It is very important for us. Just as important is another good run in the cup, just like when we went to Wembley last season and lost to Manchester United. I don’t have any regrets about the League Cup final. None of us do. We did our best and I think we should have beat Manchester United. Anybody watching would have said that. We were unlucky. Sometimes, that’s football.

Someone told me earlier that a year ago today we were getting ready to play against Inter Milan in the Europa League at the San Siro. Wow. Time flies. We have to get back to playing in big games like that.

It will be hard to keep improving every year because there are so many quality teams in the Premier League but that is my main focus.

Well, that and my two kids. People say it a lot, but being a father has changed me as a person and I live a different kind of life. I am very happy with my life and my two children. I enjoy every moment with them.

I know on the pitch I can seem a little on edge. I’m a fierce competitor. Off the pitch I am easy going and I relax more. A lot more. Honest.

On the pitch I’m sharp and I show my emotions a lot more. I’ve always been like that, wearing my heart on my sleeve. On the pitch I want to win. We all do. We give everything for our team. We are all winners and we want to win every single game.

Every training session. Every game. Even when I play cards… I have to win. It is interesting that only this makes me happy. If you want to learn one thing about me from reading this, it is that I do not like to lose. Nobody likes to lose, but especially me. It is difficult to accept.

When some of the players play table tennis or basketball, I have to be the best. I can’t stand losing. I’ll throw things and get upset because I just want to win. It’s simple.

My teammates know that and some of the players I’m closest with, like Cedric Soares, will tell you that.

Sometimes Cedric and I go up to London on our days off and hang out and have dinner but with two young kids, I spend a lot of time with my family. I’m just looking forward to meeting Cedric in the World Cup if Serbia play Portugal. We owe him one. Portugal beat us in the qualifying for the European Championships. I want revenge and on the pitch I’d be in his ear all of the time. I wouldn’t stop.

I’d enjoy that…


WORLD CUP DREAM COMES TRUE

After reaching the World Cup last week, our first time as a nation since 2010, Serbia is fresh in my mind.

Perhaps the thing I’m most proud of in my career is to be the reigning player of the year in Serbia.

When I look at some of the past winners, Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic, Nemanja Vidic, Dejan Stankovic and guys like Mijatovic, it makes me very happy to be in that kind of company. It proved to me how much respect people in Serbia had for me after goals and assists for the national team and also what I’ve achieved here at Southampton.

This award motivates me to get better and better.

And the fact that I will hopefully be heading to the 2018 World Cup with Serbia, the first major tournament of my career, it is an incredible feeling. Even now when I look back at photos from the night we sealed qualification in Belgrade against Georgia, it makes me emotional.

When I look at the photo below, I get emotional. I was just so happy. Even though I’m crying.

Going into that final game of qualifying, as a team we were under the biggest amount of pressure I’ve ever felt with the national team.

If we didn’t win that game against Georgia and qualify for the World Cup, I think they would have taken our passports away and told us we could not come back any more! It was like that. Seriously.

Those games like that, where it is so incredibly important, we are not a country that goes to every tournament, so it was a huge success for all of us.

I’m already 28, so for my national team career this is massive because playing at a World Cup is something everyone remembers. To seal the qualification in Belgrade, in front of our own fans, it is something I will always remember. The celebrations that night were quite special…

It is something I will never forget but hopefully there are many memorable moments to come both with Serbia and Southampton.

Southampton 3-2 West Ham: Late pen avoids Saints blushes

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  • Redmond, Gabbiadini combine for first
  • Arnautovic sent off
  • Tadic, Austin convert penalties
  • Hernandez scores twice

Charlie Austin watched as Southampton tossed away a 2-0 lead against brace-scoring Chicharito and 10-man West Ham United, then buried a penalty in stoppage time to give Saints all three points on Saturday at St. Mary’s.

Manolo Gabbiadini and Dusan Tadic scored to stake Saints to their lead, and Maya Yoshida won the penalty.

Marko Arnautovic saw red for violent conduct in the first half, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored for West Ham before and after the break.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nathan Redmond‘s through ball slid right into Gabbiadini’s stride, and the Italian spun the ball around Joe Hart and inside the far post.

Redmond then flicked a Dusan Tadic pass toward Hart, but the England keeper was wise to it.

Mark Noble should’ve put West Ham down to 10 men with an awful challenge just before the half hour mark, and then Marko Arnautovic earned a red card with an elbow to the neck of Jack Stephens.

Tadic converted a penalty on his 100th Premier League appearance, getting his 15th goal after ex-Saints star Jose Fonte hauled down Steven Davis in the box.

Hernandez netted his first West Ham goal when Fraser Forster pushed Michail Antonio‘s left-footed shot onto the path of the Mexican national team star.

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El Tri’s first class poacher was at it for the equalizer as well, as Forster saved another Antonio chance to Hernandez for a blast into the top of the net.

Nathan Redmond took a left-footed effort that deflected, forcing Hart to push the ball off the bar and out for a corner.

And Saints would break through with a second penalty given by Lee Mason. Pablo Zabaleta tried to get away with a veteran’s shove as Yoshida tried a header in stoppage time.

Southampton 0-2 Arsenal: Sanchez keeps Gunners alive in top-four race

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It wasn’t always the prettiest performance from the Gunners, but Arsene Wenger‘s side still has hopes of finishing top four thanks to Alexis Sanchez’s second-half winner.

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Arsenal secured a narrow 2-0 victory over Southampton on Wednesday afternoon at St. Mary’s behind the Chilean’s 20th Premier League goal of the 2016/17 season, while Olivier Giroud added a late second for the visitors.

With three matches remaining, Arsenal now sit three points out of fourth place in the PL — currently held by Manchester City — and leapfrog Manchester United to move into fifth.

The Chilean was architect again on the second goal after picking out a great curled cross to the far post to find Aaron Ramsey, who headed the ball back across the face of goal to Giroud.

Sanchez put Arsenal ahead on the hour mark when the South American put on a tremendous dribbling display inside the Saints box and beat goalkeeper Fraser Forster.

Despite long spells of possession from the Gunners during the first half, it was the hosts with the first real chance of the match in the 29th minute when Manolo Gabbiadini nearly broke past Petr Cech.

The Italian had another phenomenal opportunity to break the deadlock two minutes later but Cech made himself big once more and stopped the close-range attempt to preserve the 0-0 scoreline.

Arsenal struggled to find opportunities during the first stanza, and to make matters worse, Arsene Wenger was forced to make a change before halftime after Alex Oxlade Chamberlain picked up a knock.

The midfielder was replaced in the 36th minute by Hector Bellerin.

Wednesday’s match also marked the first time all season where Southampton has gone five matches without a victory in PL play.

Southampton 0-0 Bournemouth: The rare thrilling nil-nil

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  • Saints unbeaten at home all-time vs. AFCB
  • Arter’s plant foot slips on PK attempt
  • Sides level on 34 points

An entertaining, flowing match that saw both sides ascendant at different times saw Bournemouth fail in its 13th bid to win at Southampton in a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Harry Arter missed a late penalty kick when his plant foot gave way, and Bournemouth now had eight losses and five draws in its history of trips to Southampton.

The point boosts both sides above Watford, with Southampton holding a 10th place advantage by virtue of goal differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Dusan Tadic had a pair of early chances. The latter was especially close, a nice flicked pass from Jay Rodriguez that saw Tadic’s finishing angle a bit too acute.

Rodriguez was flagged for offside before putting the second of two chances past Artur Boruc.

Saints continued to control the play. Nathan Redmond won a free kick that ended with Oriol Romeu nodding to a prepared Boruc.

Steven Davis saved Andrew Surman‘s shot off the line in a 34th minute muddle.

Tadic missed a third chance in the 38th minute, putting a lay-off by Redmond onto the outside of the right post, and Boruc made a terrific stop on Rodriguez before the break.

Bournemouth had a moment after the hour mark, as Joshua King laid off for Benik Afobe. The ex-Arsenal man took an extra touch and missed wide of the goal for a huge missed chance.

Moments later, James Ward-Prowse and Tadic both had chances turned away at the other end, and Rodriguez and Ward-Prowse came off for Shane Long and Sofiane Boufal.

The Cherries had a chaotic moment in the 72nd minute, as Adam Smith hit the post through traffic and Forster slid to stop Marc Pugh‘s rebound attempt. A third chance sailed over the bar, but Bournemouth was humming.

Wilshere then played Ryan Fraser through on goal with a gorgeous pass, and Fraser hit the deck in inconspicuous fashion. A penalty was awarded, but Harry Arter’s plant foot slipped to send the ball way over the frame. Lucky Saints.

Romeu was especially effective for Saints in the draw.

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