Claude Puel: Southampton boss wants EFL Cup path to Europa League

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Puel delighted by 'fantastic' Saints victory

Southampton boss Claude Puel has stressed the importance of securing European football next season after his side reached the EFL Cup final.

Saints won at Liverpool and will face Manchester United or Hull, with the winners entering the Europa League.

Puel faced criticism when his side drew with Hapoel Be'er Sheva to exit the Europa League group stage this season.

"It's important to put this experience for next year in European games. It'll be important to qualify," said Puel.

"It will be important for the squad to continue the work, to improve, and know the possibilities to play European games."

Ed Malyon
Independent Sport's editor Ed Malyon offered context on Puel's tactics

Before the match, the Southampton manager, 55, faced questions on his style of play, with some supporters deeming his tactics negative.

Southampton had just 27% possession at Anfield but added to their first-leg lead in injury time when Shane Long struck to earn a 2-0 aggregate win and seal a place in the final on 26 February.

The result means former Lyon boss Puel has not lost in all six of his meetings with Liverpool and he has guided the south-coast club to a first major final since 2003 in his first season at St Mary's.

"Now we go to Wembley, not just to participate but to win this cup," he added.

Lucky saves and 'obvious' handball - Klopp

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Long handball was obvious - Klopp

Liverpool's main threat over two legs arrived as they chased the tie in the second half of the second leg, but wasted chances by Daniel Sturridge and a fine save from Saints' keeper Fraser Forster saw Klopp taste defeat in a cup semi-final for the first time.

Forster smartly hooked a ball off the line after spilling an Emre Can shot and Klopp was frustrated his side were not given a penalty when Long handled in the area.

"They won both games, they deserved it," said Klopp.

"We had big, big chances and no luck. A lucky save, a good save but a lucky save by Forster. The referee again didn't see the handball by Shane Long and that doesn't help in a game like this.

"The handball was obvious, 100% obvious.

"I'm happy with the performance, I'm fine with a lot of things but of course it's a cup so no-one cares how you play - you have to win and get to the final."

Klopp, 49, guided Liverpool to the League Cup final last season but his side have now won just once in seven matches.

'Totally and utterly deserved'

BBC Radio 5 live pundit Mark Lawrenson: "Absolutely, totally and utterly deserved. They always, always carried that goal threat. They played with so much pace, so much directness. Over the two legs they have totally outplayed Liverpool. They thoroughly deserve the Wembley appearance."

Forster's big save - the papers' verdict

Daily Mail
Daily Mirror
Daily Telegraph

'Epic' - Southampton reaction

Goalscorer Shane Long reflected on his injury-time winner
Goalscorer Shane Long reflected on his injury-time winner
Saints midfielder Jordy Clasie posted an image teasing ahead to the EFL Cup final
Saints midfielder Jordy Clasie posted an image teasing ahead to the EFL Cup final
Southampton's official Twitter account shared an image of celebrations in the changing room
Southampton's official Twitter account shared an image of celebrations in the changing room

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