Huddersfield vs Southampton: Ralph Hasenhuttl's revival in full swing after victory over Terriers

Huddersfield 1-3 Southampton: The Saints continued their resurgence under their new manager at the John Smith's Stadium

Mike Whalley
John Smith's Stadium
Saturday 22 December 2018 18:05
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Ralph Hasenhuttl: Five facts about Southampton's new manager

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s rapid impact could hardly have been better timed for Southampton. A team who looked to be spiralling towards relegation at the start of December can now see a route away from danger.

Victory at Huddersfield was only worth three points, but the confident manner in which it was achieved could prove invaluable.

Hasenhuttl is still getting to grips with English football vernacular, but he is already fluent enough to have described this match in advance as a “six-pointer”.

The new Southampton manager has had no problems, either, communicating to his players that he will not tolerate the kind of slack performances that dropped them into relegation trouble in the first place.

His team seem to have got the message, taking the lead on the quarter-hour mark with a goal well constructed and clinically taken.

Danny Ings started the move by nipping past Alex Pritchard and feeding Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, whose through pass beat Terence Kongolo’s attempted interception, allowing Nathan Redmond to run clear and lift a shot past the advancing Jonas Lossl.

In the stands, 20,000 home hearts sank. It felt like the moment when a dreadful reality sunk in.

Huddersfield had been warned, even before going behind with Southampton’s speed on the break causing all kinds of problems; Oriol Romeu had steered a shot straight at Lossl after the goalkeeper had spilled Matt Targett’s cross on the run, with the home defence in disarray.

The home side had hoped that the return for Steve Mounie from a three-match suspension might add some energy to an attack that has not been functioning anywhere near well enough for survival.

Nathan Redmond put Southampton ahead after 15 minutes

Mounie, though, looked desperately short of confidence, which should not be a surprise, given that he has not scored for his club since April.

One early attempt to control a long clearance from Lossl saw the Benin international boot the ball forward 30 yards and out of play for a goal kick, while a tame header 10 yards from goal let the visitors off the hook as they struggled to clear a Philip Billing throw-in.

Huddersfield’s growing apprehension translated into sloppiness. A loose touch by Billing allowed Redmond to steal the ball and steer a shot over the bar from 20 yards, and it was only a temporary reprieve.

Three minutes before half-time, Danny Ings exchanged passes with Redmond, then tumbled over Mathias Jorgensen’s outstretched leg as the defender took a loose touch attempting to clear. Ings, scorer of two goals in the win over Arsenal a week ago, rolled in the resulting penalty, sending Lossl the wrong way.

Ings added Southampton's second goal from the penalty spot

Huddersfield, to their credit, did not give up. Jorgensen dived in to head goalwards after Hojbjerg had messed up two attempts to head away a Billing throw, and was denied only by Alex McCarthy’s instinctive save.

McCarthy, though, was at least partly to blame when Billing’s swerving shot from outside the penalty beat him just before the hour mark, although the Southampton goalkeeper could argue that he was unsighted, with defender Jan Bednarek in his line of vision.

That goal revived Huddersfield hopes, with McCarthy beating away an angled drive from Isaac Mbenza, but Redmond soon helped to kill them off again.

The winger whipped the ball away as Christopher Schindler tried and failed to find a way out of trouble, and crossed low for teenage substitute Michael Obafemi to steer in his first senior goal, and become the club’s youngest Premier League scorer.

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