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Published: 07:52 | 24/4/16

Long apologies for Villa misses

Ireland striker feels he let Aston Villa off the hook

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman says Shane Long apologised for failing to score more goals in the Saints' 4-2 win over Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Republic of Ireland striker scored one goal and set up two more for Dusan Tadic against the Villans on Saturday, but Koeman says the former Reading and Hull City striker believes he should have netted more than once at Villa Park.

"He apologised after the game because he wasn’t scoring more goals that one. It’s a good mentality because he had some good possibilities to score," Koeman said.

Long, who hit the woodwork with an early effort, opened the scoring after 15 minutes against already-relegated Villa, with a header from close range from Ryan Bertrand's cross from the left.

However, the 29-year-old, whose pace and movement troubled Villa defenders Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott all afternoon, also spurned gilt-edged chances when one-on-one with goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the second half.

“He knows himself he had more opportunities to score and I like it. I never complain to a player who is working hard and doing everything. It’s part of the job to miss chances," Koeman said.

"He was positive because he is working hard and creating a lot of problems."

Long has now netted nine times in the Premier League this season, and Koeman says he is delighted with the Irishman's recent form.

"He’s doing great,” Koeman told Southampton's Youtube channel.

"He’s always the player with good movements and he’s fast. It was a great header from a fantastic cross from Ryan Bertrand.

"Then he got two assists more in front, but he also had more chances to score.

"But he’s working hard, he is doing well and he is creating a lot of problems to the defenders."

The Dutchman has set his side a target of qualification for the Europa League, and says that eighth-placed Southampton can still overhaul Liverpool and West Ham if they win their final three matches against Manchester City at home, title-chasing Tottenham at White Hart Lane and their final-day encounter with Crystal Palace at St Mary's.

"What you like, at the end of the season, is to play for something, that is always better than when the season is over," he continued.

"We are winning again and putting the pressure on them. That’s what we like to do and we have to do it next week.

"Liverpool have a tough schedule with the Europa League and that’s always difficult to keep the momentum in the Premier League. That’s good because we are close but we need more wins, we know."

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