Southampton 0-1 Stoke City: Peter Crouch hits 50 headers to put pressure on Claude Puel
By James Dale
Last Updated: 21/05/17 5:51pm
Peter Crouch became the first player to score 50 Premier League headers as Stoke beat Southampton 1-0 on the final day of the season.
Jack Butland recovered from a calamitous first-half error that almost gave Southampton the lead to consistently deny the Saints late on in the game after Crouch had nodded Stoke ahead on the hour mark.
James Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis and substitute Manolo Gabbiadini were all denied by Butland, as the Southampton players ended the season to a chorus of boos around St Mary's and cries of 'you don't know what you're doing' directed to Claude Puel.
Puel's future remains uncertain at the club despite an eighth-placed finish, while Stoke end the campaign in 13th following the win thanks to top-scorer Crouch's seventh top-flight goal.
Mame Biram Diouf was switched from striker to right wing-back to accommodate Crouch in Stoke's changed 3-4-3 formation, and brought a strong save from Fraser Forster within a minute in an electric opening.
Nathan Redmond probed behind Charlie Austin, making his first start since December in place of Gabbiadini, but Stoke batted away cross after cross as Southampton piled on the pressure.
Austin finally met a driven cross from Bertrand in the 34th minute, but fired wide as he slid in under pressure from Bruno Martins Indi.
The best drama came in the last 60 seconds of the half though as Southampton failed to clear a corner and Diouf's follow-up header was cleared off the line - setting up a Saints counter-attack.
Butland, way out of goal, dwelled far too long on the ball after rushing out and Redmond nicked the ball off him before hitting the bar with his attempted lob as the sides went in goalless at the break.
Mark Hughes switched to a four-man defence in the second half and it paid dividends on 60 minutes, when Geoff Cameron - moved to right-back - got to the byline and stood the ball up for Crouch to head in at the back post.
Puel responded by bringing on Gabbiadini and Sofiane Boufal for Austin and Dusan Tadic five minutes later much to the displeasure of the home fans, and both substitutes tested Butland late on.
After a brilliant double-save to stop Davis and Ward-Prowse on 73 minutes, Butland rushed out to block Gabbiadini one-on-one moments later.
And it was Butland who somehow turned Boufal's strike over the bar with his outstretched leg with just eight minutes remaining to ensure Stoke moved up one place from their 14th-position standing before the game and earn an extra £1.9m in Premier League prize money.
Southampton: Forster (6), Soares (6), Stephens (6), Yoshida (6), Bertrand (7), Davis (7), Romeu (7), Tadic (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Redmond (7), Austin (6)
Subs used: Boufal (6), Gabbiadini (6), Pied (n/a)
Stoke: Butland (8), Cameron (7), Shawcross (6), Martins Indi (6), Pieters (6), Shaqiri (6), Whelan (7), Allen (7), Sobhi (6), Crouch (8), Diouf (7)
Subs used: Walters (6), Muniesa (n/a)
Man of the match: Jack Butland