2016/17 Season Review: February

By SFC Media Thu 08 Jun First team

Having dealt with a marathon nine-game month in January, Southampton suddenly then only had three throughout February.

Though one was arguably the most important clash of the season: an EFL Cup final clash with Manchester United at Wembley.

First up, though, was a disappointing result at home to West Ham. Fresh from his arrival, Manolo Gabbiadini made the dream debut and smashed in off the bar after just 12 minutes on the pitch at St Mary's to put Claude Puel's men ahead.

But this was soon cancelled out, as Andy Carroll powered in just two minutes later and Pedro Obiang then gave the visitors the lead on the stroke of half time.

Mark Noble finished off the 3-1 scoreline in the second half, but, despite the result Saints would bounce back emphatically the following weekend.

Gabbiadini made it three in two games as he bagged a first-half brace away at Sunderland, before a Jason Denayer own goal and late Shane Long goal completed the 4-0 thumping.

It was the perfect way to leave the Premier League campaign on hold, as all attention then switched to the EFL Cup final and the two-week gap of preparation to fill.

32,356 Saints fans packed Wembley on the big day, and they were given a performance befitting of the occasion.

Puel's men dominated the opening proceedings and netted after just ten minutes, when Cédric crossed for Manolo Gabbiadini to tuck in - though the Italian was then wrongly denied by the linesman’s offside flag.

A Zlatan Ibrahimovic free-kick then cruelly ensured United took the lead on 19 minutes, before Jesse Lingard found himself in too much space inside the penalty area and slotted under Fraser Forster on 38 minutes to make the situation worse.

Despite the deficit, Saints were not prepared to lie down, and as the additional time was being announced over the Wembley tannoy, James Ward-Prowse crossed into the box for Gabbiadini to slot the ball through David De Gea’s legs and earn a way back into the match.

The Italian frontman then continued his fine form in the second half and spun his man in the penalty area and wrapped his foot around the ball to direct it into the bottom corner and make it 2-2.

Despite Saints' dominance in the closing stages, and Oriol Romeu's header coming back off the crossbar, it was United that took victory in the dying seconds.

A quick break saw Herrera chip into Ibrahimovic in the penalty area, who powered a header past Forster from close to make it 3-2 and snatch the trophy.

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