Mark Hughes Praises ‘Huge Effort’ as Saints Grab Crucial Win to Virtually Seal Premier League Safety

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Southampton manager Mark Hughes has praised his players for their efforts during the Saints’ crucial one nil victory over Swansea City on Tuesday.

The win moves Southampton above Huddersfield and into 16th place in the table, three points ahead of Swansea with just one game left to play. 

And the Saints boss admitted that while Swansea’s play caught them by surprise, he feels that his team always had control of the game.

“It was a huge effort by everybody,” Hughes told Southampton’s official website. “Anything else wouldn’t have been good enough – we needed to win.

“In the first half maybe we were taken aback a little bit because they went more direct than we anticipated, which just put us on the back foot somewhat.

“We made a couple of mistakes in terms of decisions and got caught out, but never really exposed Alex (McCarthy) to too many clear-cut chances.

“I thought our chances in the first half were more clear-cut, so I always felt we had a good foothold in the game.

“We just needed to win more challenges in the second half. To a man, that’s exactly what we did.”

Manolo Gabbiadini was the hero, as he scored just five minutes after replacing the injured Jan Bednarek, and Hughes admitted that although the change was enforced earlier than anticipated, it was still a change that he was planning to make later in the game. 

“I brought Longy on and then Jan got a bang on his head,” he continued. “Probably within four or five minutes of that injury, I was going to make the change anyway if we weren’t winning the game.

“That forced my hand to a certain extent. When you make changes, you’ve got to ensure you don’t leave yourself exposed.

“In the end, I think they ran out of ideas with what they were trying to do. We grew in confidence, their confidence diminished and we saw the game out comfortably. It might not have felt like it, but we did!”

Southampton face Manchester City in their final game, knowing that a point would officially confirm that they will play their football in the Premier League next season. 

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