League Cup: Stoke 2-3 Southampton

Southampton beat Stoke for the second time in four days to reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup.

This game was much more eventful than Saturday’s 1-0 Premier League victory, with Graziano Pelle netting his second to make it 3-2 two minutes from time in the Potteries.

Saints looked in control at half-time at two up through Pelle and Shane Long’s first for the club but Stoke levelled through Steven Nzonzi and Mame Biram Diouf.

However, moments after substitute Peter Crouch was sent off, Pelle grabbed his second to earn Southampton their ninth win in 10 games.

Both managers resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes, with 16 of the players on show having started at the weekend.

Mark Hughes gave Bojan Krkic a rare start, the former Barcelona forward appearing for the first time in nearly a month, while Saturday’s goalscorer, Sadio Mane, missed out with a knock so Long came in for the visitors.
Despite the strong sides, there were plenty of empty seats at the Britannia Stadium, although more than 2,000 Southampton fans had made the trip.

And they were celebrating inside six minutes as Pelle notched his ninth of the season.

This was arguably his best, the Italian picking up the ball in the middle of the park and taking advantage of the space given to him by the Stoke defence to pick his spot just inside Asmir Begovic’s post from 25 yards.

Stoke hit back with a spell of pressure but, like at St Mary’s, were unable to create any real chances.

The closest they came was a 19th-minute cross from Jonathan Walters that Nathaniel Clyne got his head to just before Marko Arnautovic.
Saints certainly looked to have the greater class in attack and a flowing move ended with them doubling their lead on the half-hour mark.

Dusan Tadic played in Steven Davis on the right of the area and he pulled the ball back for Long to slot under Begovic.

Pelle should have made it three shortly afterwards but blazed over and salt was rubbed into Stoke’s wounds when they thought they had scored only for Walters’ shot to be ruled out for offside.

The striker was definitely standing beyond the last defender but the assistant referee waited until the ball was nestling in the net before raising his flag.

The Stoke players came out early for the second half and it took them only four minutes to halve the deficit.

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