Watch Southampton 6-1 Aston Villa match highlights [VIDEO]
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman heaped praise on Sadio Mane after his record-breaking hat-trick kicked off an “amazing afternoon” against Aston Villa. This has been a remarkable season for Saints but one which looked to be petering out after a downturn … Continue reading
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman heaped praise on Sadio Mane after his record-breaking hat-trick kicked off an “amazing afternoon” against Aston Villa.
This has been a remarkable season for Saints but one which looked to be petering out after a downturn in performances left them winless in four matches.
Back-to-back defeats at struggling Sunderland and Leicester were particularly uninspiring, but they hit back in some style as FA Cup finalists Villa were swatted aside 6-1 at St Mary's.
“I enjoyed it very much like all the fans because we play great football,” Koeman said.
“We had great spirit from the beginning and that was the difference between the last away games and today, and some help from Aston Villa who played offside, high defending, (gave us) a lot of space and then you have to punish that.
“It was an amazing afternoon. You don't expect that to be honest but I was expecting a reaction of the team after the last two games.
“It was great because it's our last home game and the fans deserved this one because they had an amazing support of the team. It was a very enjoyable afternoon.”
The result is a timely boost in Southampton's fight for a Europa League berth and one which certainly brings a feel good factor back to St Mary's.
Saints move onto their best-ever Premier League points tally of 60 after a win in which Shane Long's brace and a Graziano Pelle volley complemented a memorable contribution from Mane.
The Senegal international's treble early in the first half was wrapped up in two minutes and 56 seconds – the quickest in Premier League history, beating the record of four minutes and 33 seconds set by Liverpool's Robbie Fowler in 1994 against Arsenal.
“It's not normal to score a hat-trick in two or three minutes, not in the Premier League, Holland or the worst league in the world,” Koeman said of Mane, signed from Red Bull Salzburg for B£10million last summer.
“I speak a lot to Sadio because first of all an important thing for the player is he has to know what his best quality is and the rest of the players have to know what the best qualities of Sadio (are).
“Sometimes I have a discussion and say 'you sometimes go down too much when backing in. You need to make movements in the space and then you are so dangerous because nobody is so fast as you'.
“He is a scorer. If you go down or to the midfield you are a long way from the goal of the opponent and you have to use your qualities.
“Today he demonstrated what we expect from Sadio. He's a great player, a great run player in front.
“We know for some players it's the first season in the Premier League but you have to learn and still he's a young player and he can do much better than he did. I believe that.”
Few foresaw this result given recent results and the upturn in fortunes Tim Sherwood has overseen.
However, Villa capitulated during a remarkable first half and were unable to get back into the game, with Christian Benteke's fine header on the stroke of half-time merely a consolation goal.
“I am disappointed – disappointed that the 45 minutes of football there was not good enough,” Sherwood said.
“Credit to Southampton, they punished every mistake we made. We made quite a few as a group.
“I'm not just talking about defenders, midfielders, attackers – the coaching staff, everyone who was involved at this football club has to take responsibility and we do. It wasn't good enough.
“We feel very sorry for our traveling fans who stuck with us right until the end and Aston Villa fans around the country and around the world.
“Since I've been in the club those are the only 45 minutes I can complain about. We have to not get too carried away and put it behind us as we have no choice but to move on to our next game which is Burnley at home.
“We've still got enough in us to get results to stay in the Premier League which was the objective.”
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