Thursday, April 25, 2024

Southampton beat Watford


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Southampton, Feb 7: Sekou Mara’s double strike helped Southampton to a comfortable FA Cup replay win against Watford that sets up a tie against Liverpool at Anfield.
The French striker, who had been linked with a loan move in the transfer window, scored twice in the space of five minutes in the second half after a dour opening period.Che Adams added a third to make sure of Saints’ passage from a game in which both managers made seven changes with promotion from the Championship being their priority.
Saints’ club record-breaking unbeaten run – which stretches to 24 matches in all competitions – has moved them to second place in the Championship and into the last 16 of the FA Cup.
The previous three meetings between these two teams had all ended in draws and it looked like this one was heading the same way as the numerous changes disrupted the rhythm of both sides.
Ismael Kone came closest to breaking the stalemate, as Watford had a five-on-four in a quick counter-attack, but his shot deflected off a defender’s thigh and bounced off the bar.Mara, hopeful of landing a place in France’s Olympic team next summer, created Saints’ best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he found Adams in space, but Watford keeper Daniel Bachmann thrust out a foot to block the striker’s shot.
Mara took matters into his own hands in the 53rd minute as Southampton pieced together a trademark slick move.Joe Rothwell, on loan from Bournemouth, picked out Adams on the edge of the box and his touch around the corner freed Mara, who clinically found the far corner to break the deadlock.
Three minutes later he bettered that finish after Saints had surged onto the counter-attack, led by 17-year-old Tyler Dibling from his own half.His strong run scattered the Watford defence and when the ball was moved via Adams to Mara, he crashed an unstoppable 20-yard shot past Bachmann.After his two assists, Adams scored his own 10th goal of the season, making a near-post run to meet Rothwell’s whipped free kick, and guiding the ball into the Watford net to ensure the trip to Anfield. (Agencies)


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