WIGAN ATHLETIC 2
Di Santo 51
It was the first meeting between Southampton and Wigan Athletic since an FA Cup tie in 1986 and only the second time the two teams had ever played each other.
Latics were beaten 3-0 back in ’86 but 27 years later they came out on top in what was the first away game of the 2012-13 Barclays Premier League season and first ever league meeting between the two sides.
Everything had to be perfect on the day for Roberto Martinez’s men as a pumped up Southampton side came out of the blocks fast, playing their first home game in the Premier League since relegation in 2005.
Ali Al Habsi was in fine form that afternoon, first denying Adam Lallana by tipping his effort onto the crossbar, while preventing Saints’ hot-shot Rickie Lambert twice in the second half and punching a long range Daniel Fox drive away to safety.
With the Omani keeping things steady at one end, Franco Di Santo made sure Latics were firing at the other when he rocketed his side into the lead on 51 minutes with the team’s first goal of the season.
As became a trend throughout the 12-13 campaign, Shaun Maloney was the architect as he slipped the ball into Di Santo on the right edge of the penalty box, before the Argentinian international let fly without a second thought to power the ball beyond a helpless Kelvin Davis.
It was a strange old afternoon on the south coast as the day started with glimmering sunshine but descended into a storm as players battled through unyielding rain for prolonged periods.
The conditions couldn’t stop Latics though, as their efficiency remained consistent both in defence and creatively as they tried to extend their slim lead.
Patience paid off and on a day of firsts, Arouna Kone scored with a minute remaining to net his inaugural goal for the club and it was a goal which summed up the Ivorian’s style.
Jose Fonte was caught out on the half way line by the determined Kone who never gave up, he nipped in behind the Portuguese centre back to steal the ball and begin his assault on Davis’ goal.
As he reached the edge of the area Kone remained calm and with one swift swing of his right boot the netting rippled as the ball bulged the bottom corner of the Saints goal.
At 2-0 with only stoppage time remaining the goal scorer was replaced by Mauro Boselli with the full time whistle signalling a positive progression for Latics as they moved up to 8th in the table after the opening day defeat to Chelsea.
Southampton: K, Davis, Clyne, Schneiderlin, Hooiveld, Fonte, Lambert, S,Davis (Ward-Prowse 75), Rodriguez (Sharp 76), Fox, Lallana, Do Prado
Latics: Al Habsi, Kone (Boselli 89), Alcaraz, McCarthy, Caldwell, Di Santo (Gomez 67), Maloney (Beausejour 75), McArthur, Boyce, Ramis, Figueroa
“I’m extremely proud of the team because we were coming to play a team who have a real winning feeling after two consecutive promotions.
“Slowly we imposed ourselves on the game, scored two fantastic goals and kept a clean sheet which is important in so many ways at this early stage of the season.”
“From a personal point of view I’m delighted with my goal.
“I’d like to thank the fans for the way they have made me feel welcome at the club and the goal was for them.”
“The most important thing was to get the three points.
“We changed things in the second half to go with two up front and it worked as me and Arouna both scored.
“Arouna is a powerful player and if he continues to play well he will be amazing for us.”