Champion League

Martin must unleash “ridiculous” Southampton gem alongside Alcaraz

Southampton extended their unbeaten run in the Championship to 14 games after resoundingly beating Blackburn Rovers 4-0 last weekend, Jon Dahl Tomasson’s Riversiders second best all afternoon at St Mary’s as Russell Martin’s men showed no mercy in a rampant display.

Martin’s use of the substitutes bench came in clutch in this contest, with Sekou Mara and Carlos Alcaraz both scoring after being introduced into the game late on to ensure the three points were secure to avoid any worries of a slip-up.

Those late strikes in the one-sided match on the South Coast could see both players come into the starting eleven today, Carlos Alcaraz itching to add more goals to his Saints resume if selected for today’s contest against a frail QPR defence.

Carlos Alcaraz’s game vs Blackburn in numbers

Alcaraz only needed 14 minutes on the pitch against Dahl Tomasson’s Rovers to add another goal to his growing Southampton account, up to seven goals now for the Championship club since joining in January of this year from his native Argentina.

He could have a double on another day in a blistering cameo off the bench, awkwardly missing a penalty with a dinked effort from the spot before firing in his side’s fourth of the game deep into injury time at the end of the 90 minutes.

The Saints’ number 22 even held his hands up to the St Mary’s masses to apologise for the poor penalty miss after scoring, more than atoning for that error with the strike.

Successful with three out of four dribble attempts too from such a short spell on the pitch, Alcaraz was a handful from the minute he came on and was an impactful presence to bring on late into the game to overwhelm a tiring Blackburn defence.

Martin could well be tempted to start his livewire Argentinian attacker next match as a result, with Sekou Mara also clamouring for a starting opportunity against QPR after an equally impactful cameo off the bench.

Sekou Mara’s game vs Blackburn in numbers

Mara was introduced into the contest in place of a surprisingly below-par Adam Armstrong, showing the usually clinical attacker how to find the back of the net in this one on a rare goalless afternoon for the ex-Newcastle United striker.

The 21-year-old crucially prodded home after Ryan Fraser crossed into the danger area, the young Frenchman putting the game beyond all doubt as a result.

Mara’s trickery on the ball would also win the Saints a penalty before this game-clinching goal, twisting and turning Blackburn shirts whilst eyeing up an effort on the Rovers net before being stopped in his tracks by a rash tackle.

Coming off the pitch at the end overjoyed at his short but sweet 14-minute cameo on the St Mary’s turf, Mara also failed to misplace a single ball in the game with two of his three ground duels also successfully won.

Mara has shone in a Saints kit in the past away from just this second-tier season in isolation, even receiving praise for his individual displays during their relegation campaign from the Premier League.

The Frenchman was hailed as “ridiculous” by football pundit and ex-Manchester City player Micah Richards in the aftermath of assisting Kyle Walker-Peters last season versus Leeds United on Match of the Day, showboating on the ball before cutting the Whites defence open with an inch-perfect pass through in the 2-2 draw.

The skilful attacker will hope his promising cameo against Blackburn will be enough to be rewarded with only his second start of the season today, even unsettling the status quo on the South Coast with Adam Armstrong potentially dropped to make way for the Saints’ number 18 to further strut his stuff.

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