Belfast Telegraph

Davis delight as Sothampton rock ragged Liverpool

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis led the Southampton celebrations last night after his side stunned Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield to reach the final of the EFL Cup.

Nathan Redmond's first leg strike looked like it would prove enough against the Reds, but sub Shane Long netted in injury time to seal a 2-0 aggregate success that fires the Saints into a first major final since losing in the 2003 FA Cup decider to Arsenal.

Claude Puel's side now have the chance to win only a second major trophy for the club at Wembley on February 26 and they will face either Manchester United or Hull City, with Jose Mourinho's men holding a 2-0 aggregate lead going into tonight's second leg at the KCOM Stadium.

If United finish the job it will be a repeat of the 1976 FA Cup decider which the Saints won 1-0.

Southampton skipper Davis said: "It's huge, I've been waiting for a chance to get to a final."

Davis added: “We have progressed every year since I’ve been here. In the first leg we should have been further ahead. We have the opportunity to go and create some history.”

Southampton broke clear in the closing moments and Long finished convincingly from Josh Sims’ pass to send them into their first final in this competition since 1979.

The Saints reached the final without conceding a single goal.

Boss Puel felt his side were deserved winners.

He said: “Fantastic. Fantastic for all the squad and it is a good reward because of all their very hard work. To find this opportunity to play in a cup final is fantastic, over two legs we deserved it, because we were fantastic in the first leg at home with just one goal with many opportunities.

“Now the goal is to go to Wembley and not just to participate and I hope to win this cup, it’s fantastic for all the supporters, the squad, the staff.

“The second half was difficult for us because there were many chances for Liverpool but in the first half we had two or three chances and could have made more of a difference.

“It is a great reward for the squad and over the two legs I think we deserved to qualify.”

Pool boss Jurgen Klopp was incensed that referee Martin Atkinson failed to give his side a penalty for an alleged handball by Long but admitted that his team needed to improve their finishing to win matches.

Klopp was adamant that his side should have had a spot-kick when a shot deflected off Saints defender Maya Yoshida into the upper arm of the Republic international in the penalty area with the scores level on the night.

The German said: “We did really well, I don’t think we can create more chances than we did in the second half and I don’t think we can play as dominant.

“We had big, big chances and no luck. A lucky save, a good save but a lucky save by Fraser Forster. (The) referee again didn’t see the handball by Shane Long and that doesn’t help.

“We played really well, we had five, six, seven really big chances and what do you have to do? Score — and that’s what we didn’t do and so we lost.

“We should score goals. We played good football. I’m happy with the performance, I’m fine with a lot of things but of course it’s a cup so no one cares how you play, you have to win and get to the final.

“We played well but we aren’t going to the final.”

Belfast Telegraph


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