Belfast Telegraph

Hasenhuttl wary of the drop as Saints let lead slip after Long’s record strike

Shane Long’s goal after seven seconds was cancelled out in the last minute.

Ralph Hasenhuttl does not think that Southampton are safe (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ralph Hasenhuttl does not think that Southampton are safe (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ralph Hasenhuttl insists Southampton are still not safe from relegation after his side drew 1-1 at Watford despite Shane Long’s record-breaking goal.

Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history, firing his side ahead after only 7.69 seconds to stun Vicarage Road.

But Long’s first-minute goal was cancelled out by a last-minute one from Andre Gray as the Hornets snatched a 1-1 draw.

A point left Saints six ahead of Cardiff in the final relegation spot with three games remaining.

Hasenhuttl said: “We have 37 points and until we have 40 we do not speak about being safe.

“Now we have a home game against Bournemouth. If you’d told me that we’d have a chance to secure safety in that game when I took over, I’d have taken that.”

The strains of Sir Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ had barely finished booming over the loudspeakers when Long gave Southampton lift-off.

Amazingly, the goal came from Watford’s kick-off.

Roberto Pereyra played the ball from the centre-circle back to defender Craig Cathcart some 40 yards from his own goal.

As Cathcart attempted to launch the ball upfield, Long charged it down and raced through before lifting it over Hornets keeper Ben Foster.

The goal was a fraction more than two seconds quicker than the Premier League’s previous fastest, scored by Tottenham’s Ledley King against Bradford in December 2000.

“It was fantastic,” added Hasenhuttl. “I think it was a very good signal after the Newcastle game on Saturday when I wasn’t happy with the first half. They listened, especially Shane Long!

“Will the record be beaten? I think it’s not so easy – if you shoot from the halfway line you could do it but it’s not easy.

“We missed chances in the first half and were unlucky when we hit the post twice.

“In the second half the pressure was massive in the last 10 minutes. It was a pity they got the equaliser but for us it’s more positive than negative because a point here is not easy.”

Southampton could have scored more in the first half with Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand both hitting the woodwork.

But FA Cup finalists Watford dominated after the break and their pressure was rewarded when Gray swept home from close range to lift the Hornets up to seventh.

“The first goal was very strange,” said Hornets boss Javi Gracia. “Southampton played better in the first half and could have killed the game.

“In the second half we found a better balance and we scored a goal. It’s an important point.

“It’s something my players are always doing, they show good spirit, we are getting goals late in games because they don’t want to lose.”

PA

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