London (AFP) – Claude Puel insists his heartbroken Southampton players will use their League Cup final pain as fuel for a strong finish to the Premier League campaign.
Puel’s side were denied only the second major trophy in their club’s history as Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 87th minute header gave Manchester United a 3-2 victory in Sunday’s showpiece at Wembley.
It was cruel on Southampton as they were the better side for long periods and had battled back from two goals down to move within a whisker of emulating their famous 1976 FA Cup final upset of United.
Puel was especially frustrated because Southampton were denied what would have been the opening goal early in the first half when Manolo Gabbiadini slotted home, only to see his effort harshly ruled out for offside.
The French coach called for video technology to be used to determine such close calls.
“I would like of course the video for the future, for this situation for example,” he said.
“For the moment in football without video, and just sometimes a bad decision and against us for the team.
“It’s important to accept this but I am disappointed for the players and for the fans.”
Adding insult to injury, Southampton, whose goals both came from Gabbiadini, also hit the post before Ibrahimovic’s late winner.
Puel bemoaned the way luck was against his team.
“It’s very hard to lose this game but it’s football. Before the third goal we had the best situation, the best opportunities to win.
“It is a big disappointment with the quality of this game. And a frustration of course for all my players.”
Even United manager Jose Mourinho admitted Southampton deserved to force extra time.
But, with their first major final since 2003 ending in despair, Puel must find a way to lift Southampton for their remaining league games.
They still have a chance of qualifying for the Europa League, which would be an upbeat way to round off an encouraging first season in charge for Puel.
“I’m proud of my players, we did a fantastic game,” he said.
“We were 2-0 down, even though we had a lot of chances to score, but we stayed in the game and came back before half time.
“It was a good reward. In the second half we had a good attitude and spirit and deserved the second goal.
“I hope we can continue with this level. It will be a big challenge to stay at this level in the Premier League.”