Stunning Armstrong free-kick seals win for Southampton3 October 2023
Stuart Armstrong's sublime free-kick handed Southampton back-to-back Sky Bet Championship wins with a hard fought 1-0 victory at Stoke.
The midfielder's right-footed effort just before half-time proved the difference at the bet365 Stadium as Russell Martin's side built on their weekend win over Leeds, while the Potters slipped to their fifth loss in seven Championship games.
Stoke's Ben Pearson unleashed the evening's first effort but did not trouble Gavin Bazunu, before Sead Haksabanovic sliced wide as the hosts began brightly.
Kamaldeen Sulemana's dangerous 18th-minute cross after getting past Ki-Jana Hoever from the left flank could not find a Saints player to finish.
Haksabanovic's clever flick played in youngster Nathan Lowe - making his first Stoke start after netting Saturday's winner against Bristol City - but Kyle Walker-Peters arrived to make a crucial challenge.
Southampton responded with a flowing counter-attack but Sulemana should have done better with it as he blasted into the stands.
Mehdi Leris robbed Ryan Manning and his teasing 24th-minute cross was met by Lowe, who headed into the ground before Bazunu claimed, while Adam Armstrong dragged wide at the other end not long after.
Stoke's Lowe crossed from the left with 10 minutes of the first half remaining but his delivery was behind Leris, who would have had a simple finish.
The visitors broke the deadlock four minutes before the break as Stuart Armstrong's sublime 25 yard free-kick flew past Mark Travers.
Junior Tchamadeu cut in from the right and unleashed a low effort which sailed just off target as the hosts sought a quick equaliser.
Adam Armstrong's pinpoint cross found the goalscorer after the break but Burnley loanee Luke McNally's vital block denied the midfielder's header.
Sulemana forced Travers into action with a low 55th-minute block with his leg after the winger glided into the box, as Carlos Alcaraz headed the resulting corner into the goalkeeper's arms.
At the other end, Daniel Johnson forced a save from Bazunu as the hosts' penalty calls after Lowe went down under Jan Bednarek's challenge went unanswered.
Leris' teasing cross with 15 minutes to go was met by Stoke substitute Wesley but he could not find the target as the hosts sought an equaliser.
Sekou Mara could have doubled Southampton's advantage after being picked out by fellow substitute Joe Aribo but slammed an 83rd-minute effort wide.
Will Smallbone nodded over Manning's corner as full-time approached, before Stoke substitute Wouter Burger forced Bazunu to parry away a fierce injury-time effort at the other end.
Southampton successfully navigated 10 minutes added time after a lengthy stoppage due to injury for Stoke's Ben Wilmot as Martin's side emerged victorious.
Stoke's Alex Neil:
"I think all you ever ask your team to do and individual players is to give everything they've got and I thought we got that.
"I don't think we can have any complaints in terms of the efforts of the players.
"We got undone by one moment of quality where the ball ends up in the top corner.
"I think certainly if you look at the foul that they get for their goal and you look at the foul in the box, if you're going to compare both in terms of contact.
"I think if you look at the two directives at the start of the season, one was based around soft contact for fouls and not buying into soft contact, which I thought for the first foul was really soft, and the other was was timewasting, and I didn't think any of the directives this evening were carried out well enough in terms of the game at all."
Southampton's Russell Martin:
"I think it's been two of our best performances, tonight I think was probably our best one, our most complete one.
"I feel like we should have scored a couple more goals and we limited them to very little really, although they threw everything at us in the end.
"To follow up the effort it took on Saturday to come here and such a tough place, a good team with a really excellent manager, to come here and do what we did, I'm really proud of the boys.
"They're playing for each other, they're playing for us and the last two games will hopefully come at the end of the toughest moment we'll have together.
"I think every team has a tough period and ours has come early on after a good start and playing against a really difficult fixture schedule.
"We found a bit of rhythm now and hopefully we can maintain that."
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This news item was provided by the SkySports | News website - the original link is: https://www.skysports.com/football/stoke-city-vs-southampton/report/484814