Southampton secured a spot in the last eight of the FA Cup after beating Wolves 2-0 at Molineux.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made a few changes but played a strong side in this tie away in the Midlands. Mohammed Salisu, the Saints’ £10.9m summer signing, made his full debut for the club, whilst Fraser Forster was drafted in after Alex McCarthy had conceded 12 goals in his last two games. Kyle Walker-Peters returned to the visitors’ starting 11. Wolves made six changes to the side which featured in the goalless draw against Leicester, including a rare start for goalkeeper John Ruddy.
Southampton’s early dominance has been their saving grace often in games this season, and this game in the FA Cup was no different. Three consecutive corners saw chances fall to Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, but each corner was dealt with well by Englishman Ruddy.
The game did not, though, get going for a while. Wolves were stuttering, not helped by injuries to Joao Moutinho, Fábio Silva and Leander Dendoncker. None of the playes had to be substituted off, but it did cause bumps in the road for the game overall as neither side was able to really push on and gain any sort of momentum.
Salisu was concerned when Morgan Gibbs-White – recalled from his loan at Swansea in January – went down in the Southampton box in search of a penalty. Jonathan Moss waved away the penalty appeals and VAR – only in use at Premier League grounds in the FA Cup – agreed with referee Moss’ decision.
The second half was, most people hoped, due to be more exciting than the relatively dull first half (at least in comparison to Everton’s 5-4 win over Spurs the night before). Southampton did have the first chance of the game, as a good overlapping run from Ryan Bertrand allowed him to play the ball back to Stuart Armstrong, though he skewed his effort from six yards out.
Ryan Bertrand was involved just a minute or so later as he played the ball through to Danny Ings. Ings’ first shot was saved well by Ruddy but the follow-up was a simple enough finish for the English striker. The linesman’s flag was originally up to call Ings out for being offside, but after VAR had a look at it, the goal stood.
Saints were desperate for a second and challenged John Ruddy well. A beautiful pass from Armstrong seemed to confused the Wolves defence, and played Redmond clean through on goal but his shot led to a brilliant save from Ruddy to keep the hosts in the game.
Down the other end, Fraser Forster was forced to make a save with his legs after Adama Traore’s good strike nearly levelled the tie.
However, it was a defensive mistake which ultimately handed the win to Southampton; John Ruddy, who – until this point – was having a brilliant game, couldn’t control Dendoncker’s pass back to him and Nathan Tella ran through to have a shot on goal. Ruddy’s block let the ball run to Armstrong who finished neatly into the net to double the Saints’ lead.
Southampton were given an opportunity for a 3rd goal when Tella was seemingly brought down in the box, but VAR refused to give the visitors the penalty – a penalty they ultimately didn’t need as the full-time whistle blew shortly afterwards anyway.
Southampton – who have now kept a clean sheet in every round of the FA Cup so far – will now face off with Bournemouth in a South Coast derby with added significance of a semi-final place at hand. It is Southampton’s second quarter final in four years.
Hasenhuttl, watching his side with some relief one would imagine after the horrible form the club have been in of late, said:
Today we had a good side on the pitch and the guys did a good job. We still tried to be patient and find the gaps. The longer the game was going, the more chances we had. We had the bigger chances, so it was absolutely deserved.
Wolves have a chance to avenge the result as they face Saints again at St Mary’s on Sunday lunchtime.
FT: Wolves 0-2 SOUTHAMPTON (Ings 49′, Armstrong 90′).
Wolves: Ruddy, Dendoncker, Saiss, Kilman, Hoever, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny (Ait-Nouri 45′), Gibbs-White (booked) (Traore 63′ (booked)), F. Silva (Neves 64′), Vitinha (Neto 69′). Unused Subs: Patricio, Coady, Semedo, Cundle, Otasowie.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters (booked), Bednarek, Salisu, Bertrand, Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeu (booked), Djenepo (Tella 87′), Redmond, Ings (Adams 83′). Unused Subs: Vestergaard, Stephens, N’Lundulu, Lewis, Finnigan, Watts, Chauke.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Stuart Armstrong (Southampton).
Referee: Jon Moss.