After seven long years, Southampton and Portsmouth rekindled their rivalry in a vibrant encounter under the Fratton Park floodlights.
The most eagerly anticipated match in the Carabao Cup Third Round did not disappoint, certainly if you are of a Southampton persuasion, as a Danny Ings double, Cedric strike and a Nathan Redmond belter condemned Pompey to defeat in the South Coast Derby.
It was 35 years since the Saints had won at Fratton Park but they showed their quality and Premier League nous to secure a spot in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, subsequently heaping even more pressure on Kenny Jackett at Portsmouth.
A certain Ronaldinho once claimed Fratton Park had the best atmosphere in the world, and on tonight’s evidence it was a fair claim to make, with Fratton Park rocking from the get-go.
Jackett made two changes to the Pompey team that narrowly lost to Wycombe in the league, with Brett Pitman replacing Andy Cannon whilst Ryan Williams came in for the suspended Ellis Harrison.
Meanwhile, Southampton made five changes to their side but it was still littered with Premier League regulars including Cedric, Ryan Bertrand and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to name a few.
The opening advances to the game were typically cagey much as you would expect from a fixture of this magnitude, with both teams sussing each-other out in front of the febrile atmosphere on the South Coast,
Pompey certainly started the brighter of the two and the first big opportunity of the game fell for Pompey’s summer signing John Marquis who was played in by Ryan Williams, but his effort needed to be a few inches to the left as his shot just shaded the right hand post.
Just moments later, Pompey’s early pressure continued as Brett Pitman had a fierce volley in the box tipped over by Alex McCarthy, at this stage, you felt this was the moment the hosts needed to capitalise as the Saints seemingly struggled to cope with the fervent atmosphere, and high-tempo of Pompey’s early play
However in the 21st minute, the deadlock was broken by the away side, much against the run of play. Danny Ings curled a sumptuous right-footed strike past the out-stretched MacGillivray, who initially had kept the striker out.
Ings’ 21st minute goal seemingly acted as the catalyst for the Saints as they looked to assert their authority – and just a few moments later Ings was played through but his shot was stopped by MacGillivray, with Hojberg’s follow up shot being blocked by Oli Hawkins.
Pompey’s best hope of an equaliser before half-time was via the lively Ryan Williams who was trying to make things happen for the hosts, but his direct runs just seemed to lack that final product.
As the game’s first half progressed Southampton’s high press made it very hard for the likes of Ben Close and Tom Naylor to infiltrate and push past Saints’ midfield.
And Southampton’s resoluteness and quality showed, when just on the stroke of half-time Danny Ings notched a second goal to silence the Pompey faithful.
Michael Obafemi won the ball in midfield and played a through-ball to Danny Ings who beautifully chipped it over the approaching MacGillivray to really inflict a sucker punch on Portsmouth, who had initially held up a good fight with their Premier League opposition.
As the second half began, Pompey showed brief glimmers of getting back to life, Curtis having a shot blocked and Ryan Williams finding himself in a good position on the right but striking it over the bar in the early stages of the second half.
Similarly, much like the first-half, Pompey came out the blocks the better team with the Pompey fans finding their voice again.
But after 65 minutes you started to get the feeling this wasn’t to be Pompey’s night as they struggled to truly get a foothold on the game with Saints comfortably passing the ball about as if it was a regular Premier League game.
And in the 77th minute, the outcome of the 2019 South Coast Derby was effectively decided.
After great work from Danny Ings down the left-hand side, his pass found Cedric who latched onto the ball just outside the six-yard box and comfortably stroked it home to finish off the match.
Saints continued to push ahead and their win was sealed in fine fashion when in the 87th minute Nathan Redmond, who had recently entered the fray from the bench, curled a superb shot around the MacGillivray to send the away fans into raptures.