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Puel booed as Stoke condemn Saints to final-day defeat

Southampton (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Southampton manager Claude Puel was booed by his own fans as visitors Stoke City won 1-0 at St Mary’s on Sunday’s final day of the Premier League season.

Officials at Southampton had already revealed plans to review the Frenchman’s future at the end of the season and Puel’s cause will not have been helped by the side’s failure to score for a fifth straight home match.

Instead it was former Southampton and England striker Peter Crouch who scored the only goal of the game.

Southampton finished in a highly respectable eighth place but Puel, who also took them to this season’s League Cup final, where they were beaten by Manchester United, could yet lose his job on the back of the team’s poor home run.

Stoke might have scored as early as the first minute but England goalkeeper Fraser Forster turned away a shot from Mame Biram Diouf.

The game was still scoreless when Crouch seized on a poor back-pass from Cedric Soares only for Maya Yoshida, tracking back, to make a challenge that ended with the ball being deflected over the crossbar in the 27th minute.

Both sides had further chances before half-time, with a leaping Soares clearing Diouf’s header off the line just before the break.

Southampton almost ended their St Mary’s goal drought in spectacular style when, after a poor touch by onrushing Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland, Nathan Redmond responded with a 40-yard chip that struck the crossbar.

However, the towering Crouch broke the deadlock in trademark fashion on the hour mark when he headed in a cross from Geoff Cameron in trademark fashion.

Puel’s decision to take off Charlie Austin and Dusan Tadic and replace them with Manolo Gabbiadini and club-record signing Sofiane Boufal in he 65th minute was met with chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing” by frustrated Southampton supporters.

They then had several chances to equalise, the best when Gabbiadini was one-on-one with Butland only for the goalkeeper to make a fine save.

Stoke finished the season in 13th place but the jeers that rang out at full-time came from home supporters. 

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