Long scores fastest Premier League goal, but Saints see victory slip from grasp

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Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history as Southampton edged another point closer to safety. The Republic of Ireland striker fired his side ahead after 7.69 seconds at a stunned Vicarage Road. But his first-minute goal was cancelled out by a last-minute one from Andre Gray as Watford secured a 1-1 draw. ⏱ 7.69 seconds – the fastest goal in #PremierLeague [email protected] #WATSOU pic.twitter.com/p2QNLKfSM5 — Premier League (@premierleague) April 23, 2019 The strains of Sir Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ had barely finished booming over the loudspeakers when Long gave Southampton lift-off. Amazingly, the goal actually came from Watford’s kick-off. Roberto Pereyra played the ball from the centre-circle back to defender Craig Cathcart some 40 yards from his own goal. As Cathcart attempted to launch the ball up field, Long charged it down and raced through before lifting it over Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster. The goal was a fraction more than two seconds quicker than the Premier League’s previous fastest, scored by Tottenham’s Ledley King after 9.82 seconds against Bradford in December 2000. Sorry, @LedleyKing… It’s @ShaneLong7’s record now! 😇 #saintsfc pic.twitter.com/BwzlTh7sdx — Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) April 23, 2019 As well as writing a little piece of history for himself, and becoming an answer to a pub quiz question, Long must have thought he had all but guaranteed Southampton’s survival until Gray struck. Had they held on, Saints would have been eight points clear of Cardiff, who sit in the final relegation spot and have just three matches remaining. As it is, the six-point gap should be plenty, with the mission of Ralph Hasenhuttl, the manager brought in to save them from relegation, almost complete. Southampton are a shadow of the side that looked to be sleepwalking towards the drop under Mark Hughes, and they constantly worried FA Cup finalists Watford with their relentless pace and pressing in a frantic first half. Redmond (centre) went close to doubling Southampton’s lead (Adam Davy/PA). They could have scored more with Nathan Redmond and Ryan Bertrand both hitting the woodwork. Redmond was also denied by a good save from Foster and Long headed two other presentable chances off target. Watford looked shell-shocked after that early blow, but they staggered back in to life and began creating opportunities. Gray planted a Will Hughes cross straight at Saints keeper Angus Gunn and Gerard Deulofeu curled narrowly wide. Salvaged 😅#WATSOU pic.twitter.com/FCmakBaeBd — Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) April 23, 2019 The Hornets dominated after the break and Abdoulaye Doucoure attempted to convert a cross from Kiko Femenia but could only bundle the ball into Gunn’s arms. Christian Kabasele felt he should have been awarded a penalty after a shove by Long in the area, but referee Mike Dean thought otherwise. Deulofeu’s cross was cleared from under the crossbar by Maya Yoshida and Foster saved a point-blank Isaac Success shot. But Saints could not hang on and Gray swept home from close range to lift Watford up to seventh and keep Hasenhuttl’s men looking over their shoulders a little longer. Topics Southampton, Watford, Andre Gray, Shane Long, Premier League, Southampton, Watford 7.69 seconds – Southampton’s Shane Long hits quickest goal in Premier League history Striker Long slams Southampton critics Saints striker Long ruled out with fractured ribs Watford’s Andre Gray reveals incredible back tattoo celebrating black history Messi rested as Barca ease to victory Hasenhuttl wary of the drop as Saints let lead slip after Long’s record strike I never tell my team to foul the opposition – Guardiola hits back at Solskjaer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits United are not at City and Liverpool’s level yet Sterling hopes player power helps eradicate racism from football in next decade Monday’s big transfer rumours: First major casualty of Manchester United rebuild revealed Ranked! The 50 best players in the Premier League this season Quiz! Can you name the 35 current Premier League players who made their debut in the competition 10+ years ago? Andy Mitten column: Why the Solskjaer euphoria died – and what must happen to get it back Why Bolton are the hardest club to support in English football
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