Cup final spirit carried Saints - Puel

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Claude Puel says the spirit Southampton showed in their agonising EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United carried them through their dramatic 4-3 Premier League win at Watford on Saturday.

Saints were beaten 3-2 last week in an enthralling Wembley final, but they helped to bury the memory of that defeat at Vicarage Road in another thrilling encounter.

Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond cancelled out Troy Deeney's opener, before Stefano Okaka levelled proceedings in the 79th minute.

The away side came again, though, as goals from Manolo Gabbiadini and Redmond rendered Abdoulaye Doucoure's late goal a mere consolation.

The win lifted Southampton into the top half and Puel said: "I'm happy for the players and for the fans. It was important to give a good answer after the final.

"We played a fantastic game against Manchester United and it was important to come back in the Premier League.

"We knew it would be a difficult game to prepare for after the disappointment and a difficult game because of the direct play, long balls and second balls. It's important always to keep the good concentration to defend that.

"I liked our performance and character to come back and score a third goal. We stayed with this feeling, with the same spirit and attitude as we showed against Manchester United and it was important that we kept this."

Watford manager Walter Mazzarri refuted the suggestion that his players underperformed because they had one eye on the forthcoming break in Premier League fixtures.

He said: "In the first half we left too much space in the middle. Southampton are an exceptionally strong team, very adept.

"It's not true that we are already on vacation. We are already focussed on the next match against Crystal Palace."