Football

Forster, defence shine in gallant Saints display

Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster thanked his lucky stars, after he almost fumbled a shot into his own net during yesterday morning's (Singapore time) League Cup semi-final second-leg win at Anfield.

A late goal from Shane Long ensured a 2-0 aggregate win over Liverpool, and a first major final in 14 years.

It was nothing more than Southampton deserved for their efforts over two legs, but the crucial moment came in the 53rd minute when Forster allowed a shot from Emre Can to squirm from his grasp but he showed incredible athleticism to spin and paw the ball off the line.

"It wasn't superb, it was self-inflicted. I thought I did enough to get there, the footballing gods were with me," Forster said.

"Maybe that's the luck we needed. Thankfully it didn't go in, but we'll take that and see what happens in the final.

"We deserved it, created a lot of chances and defended well. A great performance, it's always a hard place to come. Now we'll look forward to the final."

Former Saints star Matt Le Tissier hailed Southampton's gallant display as his former side reached the League Cup final for the first time in 38 years.

"It is incredible, it really is," he said.

"Liverpool have been in many, many finals over the years... They gave everything they had and there were some heroes out there defensively.

"We created a lot of chances over the two legs and we missed a few but, when you go through the whole tournament without conceding a goal, you've got to do that with some good defenders in your side.

"We did it without arguably our Player of the Season in Virgil van Dijk. He's barely been mentioned tonight because of the fantastic job that Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida did in the centre back positions."

Former Reds defender Jamie Carragher likened the Saints' impressive display to a vintage European away win, where their organisational prowess suffocated a tame Liverpool attack.

"For a few years Southampton have been a tough nut to crack," he said.

"Under Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman, they were always very tough defensively.

"It was a like a brilliant European away performance from Southampton, they soaked up pressure and hit them on the counter. Southampton looked far more dangerous than Liverpool did all night." - WIRE SERVICES

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