Southampton vs QPR match report: Graziano Pelle seals victory with stunning overhead kick after Charlie Austin's effort comes to no avail

Southampton 2 QPR 1: Austin had cancelled out Ryan Bertrand's first goal for Saints but Pelle immediately restored the lead

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The Independent Football

This game was meandering along when a goal-of-the-season competition broke out.

Ryan Bertrand and Graziano Pelle produced memorable strikes for Southampton either side of a spectacular equaliser by Charlie Austin in a match that was far more of a test for the home side than they could have expected.

Ronald Koeman’s players volunteered to train on their day off last week, but on the evidence of yesterday’s first half, they should have opted for some much-needed rest. Saints looked lethargic and not much like the side that had stormed to second place in the Premier League and eliminated Arsenal from the Capital One Cup in midweek.

Nevertheless, a sixth win in a row in all competitions extended their best start to a top-division season for 26 years and they have 13 points from six League matches.

QPR had lost their two other Premier League away games 4-0, so this was at least some improvement, but it was not a happy return to St Mary’s for Harry Redknapp, who took Saints down in 2005.

One of the few bright spots in the opening 45 minutes was the home debut of Sadio Mane, the Senegal winger, who tested Robert Green with an angled drive and set up Pelle for a strike that Green tipped wide seconds after a volley from Dusan Tadic had been deflected on to a post by Steven Caulker.

The goals started to flow in the second half. Southampton took the lead in the 54th minute and it was no surprise that Mane was the creator. Spotting Bertrand storming forward, he backheeled the ball into the left-back’s path and the on-loan Chelsea defender hit the ball in off Green for his first goal for his latest club.

It could have been 3-0 two minutes later, but first Green flung out an arm to deflect Tadic’s shot on to the roof of the net, then Armand Traore blocked Mane’s header a foot from the goalline.

Instead QPR were level after 66 minutes with a goal that belonged in a much better match. Slick passing ended with Eduardo Vargas crossing for Austin, who flicked the ball over his shoulder with his right foot and volleyed the equaliser past Fraser Forster with his left.

Pelle put Saints back in front a minute later with an acrobatic overhead kick after Tadic had headed back Shane Long’s cross. Steven Davis was inches from extending the lead when his first-time shot from 25 yards bounced a post. Niko Kranjcar followed suit with a 30-yard free kick and Tadic struck the long-suffering woodwork once more for good measure.

LINE-UPS:

Southampton (4-3-3): Forster; Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand; S Davis, Schneiderlin, Wanyama (Cork, 69); Tadic (Targett, 90), Pelle, Mane (Long, 68).

QPR (4-2-3-1): Green; Isla, Ferdinand, Caulker, Traore; Fer, Sandro (Henry, 11); Phillips (Hoilett, 58), Kranjcar, Vargas (Zamora, 77); Austin.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg

Man of the match: Sadio Mane (Southampton)

Match rating: 6/10

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