Southampton 1 – Norwich 0: Shane Long leaves it late to set up Arsenal tie in fourth round
SHANE LONG's stoppage-time strike finally broke Norwich’s resistance and set up a meeting with Arsenal.
22:05, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
| UPDATED: 22:15, Wed, Jan 18, 2017
Shane Long scored in stoppage time to win it for Southampton
Norwich’s Steven Naismith’s had headed a late equaliser in the first tie between these clubs at Carrow Road to force a replay that – if the line-ups were anything to go by – neither boss wanted.
Claude Puel and Alex Neil both made eight changes.
Given the wholesale changes, it was hardly surprising the game struggled to spark into life, although it did not help that Neil elected to go with a five-man defence, leaving Kyle Lafferty isolated as a lone striker for much of the game.
The Norwich boss was desperate to inject some confidence into his players after a dismal run that had brought just three wins in the last 16 games coming in, including Saturday’s defeat at Championship bottom club Rotherham.
And the visitors could indeed take some credit for the way they kept Southampton at arm’s length for most of the match in front of a stadium that was barely a third full.
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Southampton needed a goal-line scramble to break the deadlock
A cross from Southampton full-back Sam McQueen almost found the head of team-mate Josh Sims in the 11th minute.
The first effort on target came in the 25th minute but Sims’ tame, angled shot was easily dealt with by keeper Michael McGovern, who remained well protected by his side’s blanket defence.
There were signs of growing frustration among Puel’s players as they continued to run up a series of blind alleys in the final third.
And while Norwich never looked capable of throwing a telling sucker-punch, they did threaten to test Southampton keeper Harry Lewis shortly before the break when Sunderland target Robbie Brady sent a long-range effort narrowly over the bar.
The start of the second half suggested the Championship side might change their approach with Alex Pritchard leading a pacy break that ended with Brady delivering a low cross towards Lafferty that was only just cut out by centre-back Jack Stephens.
Saints, though, quickly reasserted themselves. It took a last-ditch clearance by Norwich right-back Ivo Pinto to snuff out the danger after Sims had made a powerful run into the area and Shane Long appeared to have beaten McGovern with an angled shot, only to see it drift wide.
James Ward-Prowse curled a super free-kick into the side-netting but Sims wastefully attempted a chip.
With the tie looking destined for extra-time, Long turned home from close range after a good run and cross by McQueen.
Southampton (4-3-3): Lewis; Martina, Stephens, Yoshida, McQueen; Ward-Prowse, Reed (Romeu 71), Clasie; Sims, Long, Rodriguez (Redmond 70). Goal: Long 90.
Norwich (5-4-1): McGovern; Pinto, Bennett, Klose, Bassong, Martin; Josh Murphy (Jacob Murphy 73), Godfrey (Grant 86), Brady, Pritchard; Lafferty (Canos 80).
Referee: J Moss (W Yorkshire).
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