Built on Saints
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of our much-loved home, Graham Hiley tells the tale of the stadium’s most memorable Southampton victories.
Saints 8-0 Sunderland
18th October 2014
For Sunderland, read Blunderland… but Saints were in Wonderland as they racked up their biggest ever victory.
On an unforgettable afternoon at St Mary’s, Ronald Koeman’s men totally demolished the Wearsiders with a devastating display of clinical finishing.
But they did have a big helping hand from the opposing defence who shot themselves in the foot then reloaded and did it again. And again. And again.
It was Keystone Cops stuff, a true Comedy of Errors as the visitors compounded each mistake with another, but take nothing away from Southampton who punished every mishap with ruthless efficiency.
The tone was set as early as the 12th minute when Santiago Vergini lashed home one of the goals of the season. Or at least it would have been if it had been in the right net!
There looked to be no danger as the ball dropped to him just inside his own area. It required just composed control, maybe a backpass to the keeper or even a hefty clearance.
Instead, the Argentine inexplicably hit a stunning half-volley past the dumbstruck Vito Mannone and into the top right corner for the first of three own goals and one of the most spectacular in Premier League history.
It was a finish which Graziano Pellè would have envied and a strike which would feature on blooper showreels for years to come.
Six minutes later Sunderland presented a second gift. Jordi Gómez saw his forward pass hit the heels of Seb Larsson and fall kindly for Dušan Tadić. He played in Steven Davis in space through the inside left and his square ball was tapped in from four yards by the unmarked Pellè.
It was the perfect way to celebrate his Premier League Player of the Month award as well as his first goal for Italy during the preceding international break.
Black Cats boss Gus Poyet angrily argued afterwards it might have been a different story if Andre Marriner had then awarded a penalty and likely red card when Fraser Forster appeared to fell Steven Fletcher.
Instead the official gave a goal kick and any slim hope of a comeback vanished on 37 minutes – and this time the helping hand came from the keeper who allowed Jack Cork’s close range shot to squirm through his grasp at his near post.
Cork had sprayed a long ball out left to Tadić who took his time before picking out the unchecked run of the midfielder, whose first-time effort was shovelled in by Mannone – and that wasn’t even counted as the second of the three own goals!
That came on 63 minutes when Ryan Bertrand pulled back for Pellè in space 12 yards out. He had time to take a touch and steady himself before firing in a shot which again went under the keeper’s dive. As the ball trickled towards the net Liam Bridcutt got it tangled under his feet, stumbled and dribbled into his own net for more comedy gold.
Six minutes later Saints carved open Gus Poyet’s men once more as Tadić threaded through the inside-right channel to pick out the run of Pellè and he squeezed a shot just inside the far post for what would have been his hat-trick but for Bridcutt’s blunder.
The visitors held out for another nine minutes before another Mannone of the Match moment. John O’Shea’s tame backpass saw the keeper kick straight to Tadić who hit it first time from 30 yards to curl in his first Premier League goal.
The task of keeping count became harder still within a minute as Tadić twisted and turned before squaring for Victor Wanyama to lash home from 10 yards.
Tadić supplied his fourth assist four minutes from time, pulling back to set up what looked like Sadio Mané’s first goal for the club only for it to go down as a third own goal, this time by Patrick van Aanholt who diverted it in.
That equalled their own unwanted Premier League record of three own goals in one match having previously done it against Charlton in February 2003.
The visitors clearly could not wait to get back on the bus for the long trek home after their heaviest defeat in 32 years, while Saints fans celebrated their biggest Premier League victory which kept them third in the table.
It equalled their highest ever winning margin – matching the scoreline at Northampton in December 1921. And it laid to rest the supposed curse of the Manager of the Month usually losing their next game.
Recipient Ronald Koeman purred: “I am delighted but a little bit in shock. That 8-0 is not a normal result.
"I was surprised after 20 minutes about the score – 2-0 up and we didn't start the game well. Sunderland were dominating and we had problems.
"We were lucky with the first one, the own goal. That gave us a little bit more confidence and we woke up after that. It did not look likely to be an easy win then… but it ended up 8-0. That’s football – sometimes it is hard to understand.”
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Alderweireld, Bertrand, S. Davis (Mané 65), Schneiderlin, Cork, Long (Wanyama 65), Pellè (Mayuka 80), Tadić. Unused subs: K. Davis, Yoshida, Gardos, Reed.
Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, O'Shea, Brown (Bridcutt 45), van Aanholt, Cattermole, Buckley, Larsson (Rodwell 60), Gómez (Johnson 61), Wickham, Fletcher. Unused subs: Pantilimon, Cabral, Mavrias, Graham.
Referee: Andre Marriner