Danny Ings strikes as Southampton knock Wolves out of the FA Cup
Southampton’s decision to take the FA Cup seriously paid off as a strong line-up brushed aside Wolverhampton Wanderers to secure a quarter-final clash with Bournemouth.
Chances and quality were at a premium and the goals were hardly show-stoppers. First, Danny Ings inadvertently knocked a rebound past Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy, before having a buzz-killing wait until the video assistant referee overturned an offside. Then, in the last minute, Ruddy miscontrolled Leander Dendoncker’s back-pass to allow Stuart Armstrong to give the scoreline a realistic hue.
Naturally, both teams made changes from their previous league game: six for Wolves and five for Southampton. Most of Wolves’ will be overturned when the teams meet again on Sunday at noon. “It’s fair to say those changes didn’t work out,” Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves head coach, said. “We didn’t compete well, we didn’t produce enough chances, we conceded easy goals. We have to be more aggressive and win more duels: these were the things Southampton did well.”
Like Wolves, Southampton’s promising season had turned sour. They headed north after four successive defeats, but Ralph Hasenhuttl picked a side to progress. “We’ve not had an easy time in the past few weeks,” he said. “We said when we’re safe in the league, we’ll go for the Cup. That’s why we picked a strong side, even though they didn’t, and we dominated.”
Taking advantage of Wolves’ customary slow start, James Ward-Prowse took four corners in the first eight minutes without quite finding his range, although Ruddy was relieved to flop on to a cute Ings backheel and more relieved still when a heroic Max Kilman block foiled the excellent Armstrong.
In contrast, Wolves’ front three were unable to offer options and their midfield quartet struggled to quell the visiting hordes. And yet, for all Southampton’s industry, possession did not mutate into chances and Ruddy was mostly a spectator.
Three minutes into the second half, Ryan Bertrand crossed low to the unmarked Armstrong, who shot wide from six yards. Wolves’ reprieve lasted just seconds as Bertrand threaded a pass to Ings, who shot at Ruddy. The ball fell kindly, hit Ings and bobbled into the goal. The initial verdict was offside, but Var thought otherwise.
The goal spurred Wolves. Mohammed Salisu, making his first appearance since signing for £11 million from Real Valladolid, dallied while playing the ball out of defence. Ki-Jana Hoever collected and crossed low, only for Fabio Silva to blaze over, albeit under wily pressure from Jan Bednarek.
Belatedly, Nuno deployed a flurry of big guns, but Southampton sensed the last eight and soon only Ruddy’s heroics thwarted Nathan Redmond when an Armstrong pass took out the entire Wolves defence.
Wolves came closer still in the 78th minute when Pedro Neto crossed and Adama Traore’s shot was hacked away by Fraser Forster. At the other end, Armstrong ended the contest with the goal his display warranted after Ruddy’s error.