Jack Stephens

Nuno proud of Wolves comeback; Hasenhuttl fumes at VAR

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It is safe to say that the managers of Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers had contrasting emotions after the dramatic 3-2 victory for the visitors at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints led 2-0 at half time but a stunning second half comeback, led by Mexico’s Raul Jimenez who scored twice, grabbed Wolves all three points.

With his squad banged up and missing Ruben Vinagre, Willy Boly and Diogo Jota among others, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was beaming at the final whistle after a lengthy celebration with the Wolves fans in the away end.

“It was amazing, the second half,” Santo smiled. “They [the players] realized the first half was not good. They reacted very well. I am very proud of the players and I was proud even in the first half because I am very aware of how we were doing things. Let’s keep on going.”

As for Southampton’s perspective, Ralph Hasenhuttl was not a happy man.

But not because of how his team played. He was fuming at the officials and VAR due to the decision to award a penalty kick to Wolves for their second goal. Referee Darren England didn’t award a penalty kick as Jonny went down in the box under contact from Cedric and then Jack Stephens but VAR intervened and awarded the spot kick.

“For me it is absolutely not a clear wrong decision. I think the referee was right in that moment,” Hasenhuttl fumed. “Cedric was in front of him and it wasn’t a clear wrong decision, in my opinion. The referee was right. I don’t know why they overruled in that moment. I cannot understand it. I really can’t. Cedric was in front of the ball so he [Jonny] had no chance to get to the ball. You can give it, yes, but it is not a clear wrong. I heard that VAR was overruling when it is clearly wrong. For me, it was not clearly wrong. This is what I cannot understand.”

Cedric’s nudge on Jonny probably wasn’t a foul and although Stephens didn’t make contact, his challenge was reckless. Hasenhuttl is perhaps looking to detract a little of the attention away from his players who crumbled after leading 2-0.

In truth, that lead was flattering in a pretty even game that Wolves had dominated early, and although Southampton’s incredible run of form (six wins in nine PL games before this) is over, they are still six points above the relegation zone.

This was a big moment in the season for both teams. Had Saints won they’d have been level with Wolves but a massive comeback victory now propels Nuno’s boys up to sixth and in with a chance of a top four finish.

That will surely persuade their owners to spend money in the final days of the January transfer window as their tired and stretched squad will also have to cope with the latter stages of the Europa League in the coming months.

Jimenez leads stunning Wolves comeback

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Wolves were 2-0 down at half time at Southampton on Saturday and won 3-2.

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Jan Bednarek and Shane Long had put Saints in a comfortable position but then Pedro Neto made it 2-1 and Mexico’s Raul Jimenez scored a penalty kick and a winner to send the Wolves fans wild.

The win was Wolves’ first in six games in all competitions and moves them into sixth place, while Southampton saw their six game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end in dramatic fashion.


3 things we learned

1. Saints implode at key moment: In truth, Saints were a little fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time in an even game. But after the way they’ve surged up the table with six wins in their last nine, you could see they were brimming with confidence. That is now gone. After beating Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea spirits were high but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have to pick his team up from a shocking defeat. This feels like another key moment in their season as they now sit six points off the bottom three but a win or draw would see them much closer to the top six battle. Fine margins decide games and Long’s header hit the post moments before Wolves made it 2-1. Saints’ season can now go either way.

2. Wolves continue to rally from slow starts: They have conceded the first goal in a league-high 16 PL games this season and it is now seven in a row. But they keep fighting and they showed incredible spirit with Jimenez and Traore leading the charge, once again. Imagine where Wolves would be in the table if they actually started games well?

3. Top four now on for Santo’s battered side: They are five points behind Chelsea and in the top four hunt now. Wolves have such a small squad and Santo wants to add to it, so expect them to do business with the Europa League knockout rounds and a possible top four push coming up. They are down to the bare bones with injuries to Vinagre, Boly and Jota hitting them hard but they are getting the job done in remarkable fashion.

Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez – He missed a few chances in the first half but was always a threat and finished his chances in the second half. Clever hold up play and pulled Southampton’s defense all over the place.


Wolves looked dangerous early on as Adama Traore’s deflected shot flew just wide but then Saints struck with their first attempt of the game.

James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick caused havoc and Bednarek cleaned up at the back post to slot home calmly and make it 1-0.

Saints should have doubled their lead as Cedric‘s header at the back post was a poor one, while Raul Jimenez went close on a couple of occasions.

After Jimenez flashed another shot wide Saints did double their lead, as Cedric’s cross was finished clinically by Long for his first goal in 19 games.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Long hit the post with a header as Saints threatened to run away with things at the start of the second but moments later Wolves started their comeback.

Adama Traore surged down the right and crossed for Neto who controlled well then finished to half the deficit.

Wolves were level soon after as Jonny ran into the box and was brought down by a combination of Cedric and Jack Stephens in the box, as a penalty kick was awarded via VAR and Jimenez slotted home from the spot.

Nathan Redmond then went on an incredible run and smashed a shot from distance which clipped the crossbar and then Neto drilled over from a great position as it was end-to-end stuff in the closing stages.

Saints went close to scoring a winner as Jack Stephens couldn’t hook home from close range as Wolves somehow cleared, and then Jimenez finished after great work from Traore to make it 3-2 and seal the stunning comeback.

Stephens and Sofiane Boufal missed chances for Southampton to nick a point as Wolves, who are short on players as injuries pile up, pulled off an amazing comeback win.

Redemption: Saints stun Leicester

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Southampton beat Leicester City 2-1 in a wild clash at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.

The victory tasted even sweeter for Saints after their 9-0 humiliation at home against Leicester earlier this season.

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Dennis Praet gave Leicester the lead but Stuart Armstrong made it 1-1 and Danny Ings went close on several occasions before he sealed the win late on.

Saints had a penalty kick chalked off by VAR and Kelechi Iheanacho and Johnny Evans were both denied goals by the technology as Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s warm embrace with Brendan Rodgers at the final whistle showed a man who has come back from the brink.

With the win, their sixth in their last nine games, Saints remain in 12th but are on 28 points and just three points off seventh. Leicester sit in second but could slip down to third by the end of the weekend.


3 things we learned

1. Redemption for Southampton: This victory will be sweet for every single person connected with Saints. They were humiliated 9-0 by Leicester earlier this season and Hasenhuttl’s side dominated this game throughout. They should have won easily but dug in and showed amazing character, just like they have done since that mauling, to keep their amazing recent run going.

2. Leicester running out of steam: The Foxes have now lost three of their last five games and the wheels are starting to come off a little. They missed the injured Wilfried Ndidi badly and Vardy and Maddison only showed flashes of their quality. The Foxes would have to have a dramatic collapse to finish outside the top four, but it looks like a top two finish could be out of the question.

3 Unlucky Ings strikes again: He hit the bar twice in the first half within 30 seconds and was denied brilliantly twice by Kasper Schmeichel and it looked like it wouldn’t be his day. But he delivered late on to take his amazing run to 10 goals in his last 11 games. Ings is on fire and so are Southampton and he will be called up by England in March. A gutsy display by Ings who could barely run in the final moments.

Man of the Match: Danny Ings – Scotsman Stuart Armstrong put in an amazing shift in midfield and probably deserved this award, but the work Ings put in and the way he kept going summed up his, and Southampton’s, superb return to form in recent months. What a story.


Saints should have taken the lead early on as Harvey Barnes gave the ball away and Ings was clean through on goal but Kasper Schmeichel denied him twice.

Leicester made the most of that reprieve as Ayoze Perez’s quick free kick found Jamie Vardy who crossed for Praet to finish at the back post.

But Southampton, much to their credit, kept plugging away and hit back in the first half as Armstrong’s shot took a big deflection off James Maddison and snuck in to make it 1-1.

Ings then came so close to scoring twice for Saints as he first hit the crossbar with a flicked effort at the near post, then moments later smashed the bar from distance as Leicester were pinned back.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Caglar Soyuncu then cleared off the line from Jack Stephens as Saints continued to look the more dangerous side.

Armstrong smashed over the bar and then a big movement of controversy arrived. Long was played in and was clean through but Caglar Soyuncu brought him down.

However, VAR intervened as Long was slightly offside when he was played in so the penalty was not given.

Che Adams came on and set up Ings to make it 2-1 as he nutmegged Kasper Schmeichel amid wild celebrations from the away fans.

The in-form striker should have wrapped it up again as Nathan Redmond played him in but Ings had a good effort which was brilliantly tipped wide by Schmeichel.

Demarai Gray was then denied by Alex McCarthy and Leicester thought they had grabbed a point when Johnny Evans nodded home in the 90th minute but VAR was used, again, and the goal was chalked not given as he was offside.

Southampton beat woeful Tottenham

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Southampton secured their fifth win in their last eight Premier League games as they beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at St Mary’s on New Year’s Day.

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Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side should have won by a more comfortable margin but Danny Ings‘ superb first half goal was enough to beat Jose Mourinho’s Spurs who were poor throughout.

To add insult to injury Harry Kane hobbled off injured as Spurs lost a great chance to make up ground in the top four race.

With the win Southampton move to 25 points for the season and up to 11th in the table, while Tottenham are on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. Kane’s injury a huge concern: Harry Kane injured his hamstring as he scored a goal from an offside position and that is a big problem for Mourinho and Spurs. Heung-Min Son will step up as he returns from suspension but Kane’s absence will leave a massive hole in Tottenham’s attack. He’s not just a supreme goalscorer and he doesn’t get enough credit for his hold-up play and creativity in the final third. At a pivotal point in the season the last thing Spurs wanted was Kane injuring his hamstring after the busy festive period.

2. Spurs’ woeful defending continues: Tottenham haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League for one year. One year. They’ve now conceded 18 goals since Mourinho arrived and a coach who prides himself on his defensive organization was miserable on the sidelines at St Mary’s. He needs to add new defenders across his back four in January or this summer because he’s tried pretty much every combination possible and it isn’t working. Vertonghen and Alderweireld were run ragged by Southampton’s pacy attackers and that is a reoccurring theme for whoever Spurs play against.

3. Saints’ improved defense, Ings deliver: Danny Ings is in the form of his life for his hometown club. He has scored 12 goals in his last 14 starts for Saints and has been hugely important to Southampton’s turnaround in form, but just as important has been their defensive improvement. Their clean sheet against Spurs was their first at home since February last year against Fulham. Bednarek and Stephens have been rocks at the heart of their defense and Cedric and Bertrand solid at full back. Saints have found the right balance at the back and their season has taken off with shutouts wins at Chelsea on Boxing Day and then against Spurs on New Year’s Day.

Man of the Match: Jack Stephens – Yet another towering display from the center back who has been ever present after their 9-0 drubbing by Leicester. Kept Kane quiet and held everything together. A massive performance, with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Ings also brilliant.


Southampton had a great chance to take the lead but Cedric, totally unmarked, headed wide at the back post after Ryan Bertrand found him.

At the other end Harry Kane’s shot deflected towards the top corner but Alex McCarthy saved well.

Nathan Redmond then dribbled into the box and his low shot was saved by Paulo Gazzaniga and Spurs cleared just as Stuart Armstrong looked set to tap home the rebound.

Ings then put Southampton ahead as one long ball over the top caught out Tottenham’s defense and Ings lobbed the ball over Toby Alderweireld‘s head with his first touch and finished with his second.

Tanguy Ndombele was forced off with an early injury and Dele Alli went down in the box looking for a penalty kick but Spurs couldn’t get going.

Alderweireld deflected Redmond’s shot wide after great work from Armstrong as Saints ripped open Spurs’ defense time and time again in the first half.

Spurs improved going forward at the end of the first half as Kane’s shot from distance was spilled by McCarthy but Southampton’s goalkeeper redeemed himself as he saved at the feet of Alli. From the resulting corner Jan Vertonghen smashed over the bar as a glorious chance came and went.

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At the start of the second half Redmond volleyed over the bar as he was left completely unmarked by Spurs.

Saints then had a big shout for a penalty kick for a handball on Alderweireld but Mike Dean didn’t award it and VAR was used and didn’t overturn his decision.

Tottenham had plenty of the ball but struggled to carve out any clear chances, as Kane then injured himself.

Spurs’ captain stretched to flick home a free kick but the offside flag went up and not only was the goal disallowed but Kane hobbled off with a hamstring injury.

Late on Tottenham threw everything at Southampton but the hosts held on fairly comfortably to seal a huge win in their battle against relegation.

Southampton shock Chelsea

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Southampton shocked Chelsea by winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day as Frank Lampard‘s Blues continued their Jekyll and Hyde form.

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After winning at top four rivals Tottenham last time out, Chelsea were sluggish against Saints and were punished as Michael Obafemi and Nathan Redmond scored in each half to lead Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side to a big victory.

With the win Southampton move on to 21 points, while Chelsea stay on 32 points.

The defeat marked the first time Chelsea have lost back-to-back home games in the Premier League since 2011.


3 things we learned

1. 3-4-3 not the way forward for Chelsea: Frank Lampard stuck with the 3-4-3 formation which worked so well at Spurs on Sunday, but it was a surprise he went with it at home against Southampton. Chelsea have now lost 2-0 to Saints and 1-0 against West Ham and Bournemouth in their last four home games at Stamford Bridge and their young team has been a little naive. Lampard’s admission that they will be in the transfer market in January seems to have unsettled some of his players as their transfer ban is now over.

2. Saints alive and kicking: Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have now won four of their last six games but this was the most impressive victory of the lot. Away from home against Chelsea, Saints took the game to the Blues and their high-pressing style unnerved Chelsea. Danny Ings, their leading goalscorer, was left out and the young forward duo of Che Adams and Michael Obafemi delivered with grit and the latter with a fine goal. This was Southampton’s first clean sheet in 14 games and back-to-back wins have taken them from the relegation zone to eyeing a top 10 finish. There is still a long season ahead but Saints have finally got going.

3. Pulisic’s lack of game time concerning: When USMNT winger Pulisic didn’t start against Spurs on Sunday we assumed he was being rested to play against Southampton. He came on for the final 25 minutes and did well, winning free kicks and firing just wide, and you have to imagine he will start against Arsenal on Sunday. If he doesn’t that will be even more concerning.

Man of the Match: Jack Stephens – Won the battle against Tammy Abraham and he led the Southampton defense calmly. What a turnaround in his career over the last few months.


Early on Southampton were comfortable enough without having a clear chance on goal and the first big chance of the game came to Chelsea.

Callum Hudson-Odoi‘s shot was deflected wide by Jack Stephens and from the resulting corner Fikayo Tomori headed straight at Alex McCarthy.

Saints frustrated Chelsea in the first half and then took the lead as 19-year-old Obafemi turned, settled himself and curled home a stunner into the top corner.

Cesar Azpilicueta’s flick at the near post from a corner almost snuck in as McCarthy tipped the ball away.

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Mason Mount came on at half time for Kurt Zouma as Chelsea switched their formation to a 4-2-3-1 and Tammy Abraham slammed a shot into the side-netting from close range.

At the other end Nathan Redmond broke free and crossed for Che Adams but Tomori cleared superbly at the back post.

Redmond then spurned a great chance as he was clean through but Kepa saved down low.

USMNT’s Christian Pulisic came on for the final 25 minutes to try and salvage something for Chelsea but then Southampton killed the game off.

A break found Redmond and he calmly dinked over Kepa and in to seal a shock win for Southampton at Stamford Bridge.