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Mané Goal Enough to Smash Potters

The Saints sit in second after a sometimes-nervy match against Stoke ends in another Southampton victory, 1-0.

Mike Hewitt

After an attractive first half and a nervous second, Southampton managed to finish off Stoke 1-0 at home and move to second place in the Premier League table. Sadio Mané's rebound side-footer was the only goal in a match with a few chances at both ends.

Coming off four straight Premier League draws between the two sides, you could have been excused for thinking Stoke and the Saints would finish even again. But the Saints continued their magic run behind Ronald Koeman and another strong performance by Pellè, Mané, and Tadić.

Southampton dominated the first ten minutes, with good chances for Mané and Davis going wide of the post. Stoke would counter with a few decent chances of their own with a Crouch header over the bar in the 11th minute and a strong run by Moses ending with a very poor shot in the 15th.

After six or seven minutes of dominance in which the ball kept returning to Stoke's 18-yard box, Mané finally scored to put the Saints up by one in the 32nd minute. The ball was passed head-height into the box and unsuccessfully cleared by a Stoke defender, the ball falling to the feet of Pellè. Pellè took a touch then shot, hitting the post then rebounding to Mané, who scored with the side of his right foot.

The only true first half highlight on the other side of midfield may have been the yellow card Shawcross received for changing his boots on the pitch. The referee looked a bit shocked by Shawcross sitting on the field with three boots around him and showed him towards the touchline.

In the first half, Southampton had roughly twice as much possession and hardly felt threatened by Stoke City. But that would change after halftime.

Southampton started well enough, with a typically dominant and influential Tadić lofting a cross in towards Pellè, who did extremely well in wrestling for position and heading the ball, only to hit the frame of the goal for the second time.

After Stoke's Charlie Adam came off for Diouf in the 52nd minute, Stoke started to show a bit of pressure and make the home side nervous. Southampton's passing started to break down and Stoke gained more possession, though without any specific chances on goal until later in the half.

In minute 74, Nathaniel Clyne collided with Diouf in the box, resulting in penalty appeals that were stronger in the Stoke City corner of the stands than they were on the pitch.

In the 78th minute, Assaidi came on for Moses, and Southampton began to waste time rather than attempt to score. Tired players and a less visible Tadić resulted in a dysfunctional Southampton attack, who now wished even harder they had scored on their several earlier chances.

Four minutes were added on, and Stoke began to go direct to Crouch and their other big bodies in the Southampton box, but Forster's equally ample height managed to defuse the last few chances and send the Saints fans home happy.

Southampton earned yet another clean sheet and moved to second place in the table, leapfrogging Manchester City as they lost away to West Ham. The Saints' dream start continues, and they have a great chance to earn even more points in their next Premier League matches against Hull and Leicester City, before the schedule really starts to get nasty towards the end of the year. Before that, however, they will have to play Stoke again in the League Cup on Wednesday.