Graziano Pelle has golden touch for Southampton
Stoke City left behind as Saints continue on unlikely run for honours
Shane Long celebrates scoring Southampton’s second goal in their League Cup fourth round victory over Stoke City at Brittannia Stadium. Photograph: Getty.
Stoke City 2 Southampton 3
Southampton completed a league and cup double over Stoke City, Graziano Pelle scoring his second goal of the night in the 88th minute, but only after withstanding a furious second-half assault in which Peter Crouch was sent off for two bookable fouls.
Pelle claimed the winner after Steven Davis’s free-kick deflected his way off Erik Pieters following Crouch’s lunging foul on Davis. Mame Diouf had equalised for Stoke eight minutes from time, when he headed in Charlie Adam’s corner, after Southampton had cruised into a two-goal lead at half-time, four days after their 1-0 victory over Mark Hughes’s side in the English Premier League.
Everything Pelle touches at the moment seems to turn to gold. Receiving Matt Targett’s ball in to feet 25 yards from goal, the Italian was afforded a tad too much respect from the Stoke defence, he took one touch before curling the ball into the top corner for a sixth-minute lead.
Southampton moved the ball around slickly and deserved their two-goal lead. Davis was the orchestrator as he played a one-two with Dusan Tadic, keeping on the move before pulling back the simplest of low crosses for Shane Long to tuck in his first Southampton goal.
Hughes had every right to be seething at half-time at how his team had performed. But within four minutes they were back in a game. Marko Arnautovic was lax with his short free-kick from a left-back position, obliging Steven Nzonzi to stretch to get past his man but boy how he motored on from the halfway, getting away from Victor Wanyama before unleashing a 30-yard shot into the corner.
Southampton had clear opportunities to reclaim their two-goal buffer but Davis and Long, both getting free, spurned them before Stoke, fired up by Charlie Adam’s heated impact as a substitute, finally gave it a go.