Claude Puel was pleased with Southampton’s attitude and spirit as they progressed to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup.
A 1-0 victory against Sunderland was sealed thanks to Sofiane Boufal’s stunning goal midway through the second half, as Saints set up a last-eight clash with Arsenal.
For Puel, who handed starts to five Academy graduates, while Olufela Olomola came on for his debut early on following an injury to Jay Rodriguez.
Speaking about the win, Puel said: “It was a very hard game. I chose at the start to change the team to leave some players in the dressing room.
“I wanted to give the chance in this game to players like Boufal and all of the young players.
“We have some injuries, so some players didn’t play in their position too, like Stephens for example.
“He played at right-back, but with a good attitude he played a good game, like all of the young players.”
On the six Academy graduates, Puel felt that their energy and efforts merited the win, as Saints kept their momentum going in all competitions.
“The young players had a good spirit. Sometimes it was difficult for them, but they gave it everything and we got the victory,” he added.
“It was difficult because they didn’t have experience and maturity, but with energy and quality, like the goal of Boufal, it was okay.
“It was very hard to finish this game winning, but I am happy for the result, for the attitude and for the spirit of my players.”