Ronald Koeman lauded the spirit shown by Saints in overturning a one-goal deficit to beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Capital One Cup Third Round on Tuesday night.
Having fallen behind to Alexis Sánchez’s impressive free-kick, Dušan Tadić scored his first goal in Southampton colours after debutant Sadio Mané won the spot-kick and then Nathaniel Clyne sealed a place in the next round with a 30-yard blast at the Emirates.
“Winning at Arsenal is difficult,” Koeman told the club’s official YouTube channel. “Everybody spoke about that maybe they would change their team. They did some changes like we did.
“After a fantastic free-kick from Sánchez I think we had a fantastic reaction. It was a great performance and great spirit from the team. It’s an amazing result for us and the fans who support the team.
“That’s the quality of Clyney. He has a good shot. He’s a right full-back who’s very offensive. He deserved a goal because from the beginning of the season he’s played very good and I’m happy about his performance.
“It was a fantastic goal, a great shot. It was a great moment in the game and then the team had more confidence to play and have a good defence.
“You can stay behind in the result. We kept the spirit, ambition and belief – that was the key today.”
Praise was also reserved for the incredible support for the visitors on the night in London, where over 5,000 supporters came to back their team to victory.
“More than 5,000 fans – that’s amazing and it means a lot to the players and coaches,” Koeman enthused. “We’re happy that we won it for them today.
“It’s a big influence. The team feels that support and everybody feels good to be a part of Saints this season.”
After impressing against Millwall in the previous round, Matt Targett put on yet another resilient performance in the face of tough opposition.
While Koeman had nothing but positives to say on the left-back’s display, the manager also provided an encouraging assessment of Mané’s bow with thoughts of Saturday’s match at home to QPR a subject already under consideration.
The Dutchman continued: “He (Targett) had a fantastic performance. It looked like he’d already played three seasons in the first team. He’s got a lot of belief in himself and it was a great performance. I’m very proud of him.
“He (Mané) brought a lot of speed in the game and he was fantastic for the penalty. He is an important player for us and he showed that tonight.
“We have to continue and if we always bring 100 percent [effort] then I think we can have a fantastic season, but we have to keep our feet on the ground.
“Saturday against Queens Park Rangers will be different; maybe it’ll be more difficult. We have to prepare ourselves in the best way. The team was already talking after the game about Saturday and that means a lot.”