Southamp­ton end Arse­nal’s un­beaten run to reach EFL Cup semi-fi­nals

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

First-half goals from Jordy Clasie and Ryan Ber­trand have earned Southamp­ton a 2-0 vic­tory over Arse­nal in the EFL Cup quar­ter-fi­nals.

Southamp­ton con­trolled large parts of the game at the Emi­rates Sta­dium as they handed the Gun­ners their first de­feat in all com­pe­ti­tions since the first week­end of the sea­son, a run stretch­ing 19 fix­tures.

Arsene Wenger made 10 changes to the side which started the 3-1 vic­tory over Bournemouth at the week­end and the up­heaval proved costly dur­ing a first half where the Gun­ners failed to reg­is­ter a sin­gle shot on goal.

Southamp­ton were not fir­ing on all cylin­ders but they were a con­stant threat on the counter-at­tack through Shane Long and Sofi­ane Bo­ufal and the pres­sure they were putting the Arse­nal defence un­der paid off in the 13th minute.

Af­ter a shot in the penalty area was blocked, the ball fell to Clasie who fired a su­perb ef­fort into the top corner from 16 yards out to net his first goal for the Saints.

Arse­nal were still hav­ing plenty of pos­ses­sion but the likes of Lu­cas Perez, Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ram­sey were cre­at­ing noth­ing in the fi­nal third and it came as no sur­prise when Southamp­ton dou­bled their lead with seven min­utes of the first half re­main­ing.

It was club-record sign­ing Bo­ufal who pro­vided the as­sist, with his pass into the penalty area be­ing col­lected by Ber­trand, who took a touch be­fore find­ing the bot­tom corner from 14 yards.

Soon af­ter the restart, Arse­nal fi­nally reg­is­tered their first ef­fort on goal but Perez's left-footed ef­fort in­side the penalty area lacked power and Fraser Forster claimed eas­ily at the near post.

Ram­sey then failed to make the most of an op­por­tu­nity from 12 yards out be­fore Southamp­ton went back on the of­fen­sive with Long forc­ing a sprawl­ing save out of Emil­iano Martinez.

Mo­ments later, Bo­ufal came within inches of seal­ing vic­tory for the Saints when his low drive nar­rowly missed the far post but Southamp­ton were not left ru­ing that open­ing as Arse­nal strug­gled to test Forster.

Southamp­ton could have fur­ther ex­tended their lead through Long and Steven Davis late on be­fore Alex Oxlade-Cham­ber­lain fired harm­lessly over for Arse­nal with 11 min­utes left when he prob­a­bly should have scored.

The vis­i­tors fin­ished strongly with Pierre-Emile Ho­jb­jerg forc­ing a ter­rific save out of Martinez but they were more than con­tent to set­tle for the two as they reached the last four of the com­pe­ti­tion for the first time since 1987.

An­thony Mar­tial, Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic at the dou­ble to send Manch­ester United through

An­thony Mar­tial con­tin­ued his im­pres­sive run of form against West Ham United by adding an­other two goals to his tally and help­ing Manch­ester United to a 4-1 win in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the EFL Cup.

The Red Devils were on top for the vast ma­jor­ity of the game, but they were pegged back in the first half by for­mer age-grade player Ash­ley Fletcher af­ter Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic had given them an early lead with the first of his own per­sonal dou­ble.

A fifth win in 12 out­ings was never in doubt once Mar­tial re­gained his side's lead 47 min­utes in, how­ever, mean­ing the Red Devils have a fi­nal-four tie to look for­ward to in the New Year for the 12th time in their his­tory.

A slow start to the con­test in the re­verse meet­ing be­tween th­ese two sides three days ago would ul­ti­mately cost the hosts, but they were quick­est out of the blocks this time around and were ahead 33 sec­onds in.

It was a bril­liantly worked team move, too, with Wayne Rooney slip­ping the ball into the path of Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan in the hole, who in turn back­heeled to Ibrahi­movic to do the rest - the Ar­me­nian claim­ing his first as­sist as a United player.

The Red Devils re­ally should have been two to the good just five min­utes later, but Adrian - back in for Dar­ren Ran­dolph this evening pro­duced two top saves to thwart Ibrahi­movic, hav­ing ear­lier caught the Swedish su­per­star late in the build-up to the goal in a chal­lenge wor­thy of a red card.

Man United con­tin­ued to see more of the ball and were helped along the way by some slack West Ham pass­ing, but a tame Mar­tial shot from in­side the box was the clos­est they would come to adding to their tally in the first half.

Their fail­ure to make the most of pos­ses­sion in ad­vanced ar­eas would come back to haunt the home side 35 min­utes in, when re­turn­ing youth-team star­let Fletcher tucked home from close range in front of the Stret­ford End af­ter a sting­ing Dim­itri Payet shot was fum­bled by David de Gea.

Much like in the first half, Man United found the net soon af­ter kick­off as a sec­ond weak pass of the night from Payet was pounced on, al­low­ing An­to­nio Va­len­cia to this time back­heel into Mkhi­taryan's path.

The for­mer Borus­sia Dort­mund ace looked up and spot­ted Mar­tial, who added the first of his two by sweep­ing into the corner of the net from close range - goal num­ber three against West Ham in four ap­pear­ances.

Mar­tial was to be de­nied by Adrian just short of the hour mark, while Ibrahi­movic also met his match with a well-struck free kick down the mid­dle, but Mar­tial did grab his sec­ond when an­other sweep­ing move ended with the French­man con­vert­ing from a Va­len­cia Yes­ter­day Arse­nal-Southamp­ton .................... 0 - 2 Manch­ester United-West Ham ....... 4 - 1

ITALY

Yes­ter­day Palermo-Spezia

................................ 0-0 4-5 pen Ata­lanta-Pescara ............................... 3-0 Sam­p­do­ria-Cagliari ........................... 3-0

SPAIN

Yes­ter­day For­mentera-Sevilla ............................ 1-5 Real Madrid-Leonesa ........................ 6-1 Toledo-Vil­lar­real ................................ 0-3 Cor­doba-Malaga ............................... 2-0 Granada CF-Osasuna ......................... 1-0 Gui­juelo-Atl. Madrid ......................... 0-6 UCAM Mur­cia-Celta Vigo .................. 0-1

SCOT­LAND

FA Tro­phy Yes­ter­day Pi­eta-Lija ........................................... 0-2 Sliema-Mosta .................................... 3-2 Marsa-Xewk­ija T ........................ 3-2 AET

pass.

The Red Devils had learned their les­son from the first half, and in­deed from most of their re­cent home matches here, by see­ing things through in a more solid man­ner.

Jose Mour­inho, ab­sent tonight due to a one-game ban, has now gone un­beaten in 11 games in this com­pe­ti­tion since De­cem­ber 2013, with his side look­ing the more likely to add to their tally with­out truly threat­en­ing Adrian un­til late on.

Southamp­ton's Ryan Ber­trand, left cel­e­brates scor­ing his side's sec­ond goal with Sofi­ane Bo­ufal, cen­ter, and Vir­gil van Dijk, right against Arse­nal yes­ter­day

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