Hasenhuttl sees size of task as error costs Saints
Jannik Vestergaard laid Southampton’s defensive problems bare as his blunder ensured Ralph Hasenhuttl’s reign began with a devastating defeat.
Cardiff striker Callum Paterson pounced in the 74th minute to take the Saints’ winless run to 14 matches.
It was Cardiff ’s fourth victory in their past five home matches and takes them four points clear of the relegation zone, while the Saints fall to 19th as their worst run since 1998 rolls on.
“At this level you cannot give the ball away twice in that manner,” said Hasenhuttl. “So it is hard to accept that we didn’t get a point, but with these mistakes we don’t deserve it.
“It’s all about staying focused, it’s also a physical question. It gets intense at the end of the game, which makes it more important to stay focused and do the easy things. But the ball wasn’t difficult to deal with and I think Jannik is disappointed about that.”
Hasenhuttl was almost given the perfect introduction to the Premier League after three minutes when Charlie Austin latched on to Matthew Targett’s low cross to steer the ball towards the bottom corner. But Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was relieved to see the ball flash past his post.
Then Austin got a toe to a Vestergaard free-kick and watched as it flew over the bar. The Saints’ positive start was almost undone by Harry Arter, who could only volley into the hands of Alex McCarthy after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing diverted Victor Camarasa’s cross across the face of goal.
Paterson was the next Cardiff player to have a clear chance, but he failed to make a solid contact with the ball moments after Sean Morrison left Vestergaard for dead.
Hasenhuttl’s half-time team talk clearly had the desired effect as Southampton came racing out of the blocks.
The manager thought his side should have had a penalty on the hour mark when Stuart Armstrong tripped over Camarasa’s outstretched leg, but Jonathan Moss waved away the appeals.
The Austrian’s protests turned to despair when the scale of their defensive problems were exposed with 16 minutes remaining.
Joe Bennett won the ball back in midfield before Camarasa sent it into the Southampton half. Paterson gave chase to the seemingly lost cause while Camarasa reeled in pain after being levelled by Oriol Romeu.
Moss signalled advantage despite the situation looking under control, until Vestergaard stumbled over the ball to allow the Scottish forward to go clear through on goal and beat McCarthy with a shot that dribbled over the line.
Warnock revelled in his Cardiff side proving the doubters wrong. “I’m sometimes critical of referees,” the manager said. “But I have to pay credit to Jonathan Moss. I don’t think any other ref would have played that advantage for us for the goal. It was a fantastic decision and I’ve got to say a big thank you.”
New voice: Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl urges his team on