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Long scored 7.69 seconds after the start of the game – the quickest goal in Premier League history – but it was not enough to secure the win and put Saints on the verge of safety
Shane Long broke Ledley King’s record of scoring the fastest goal in Premier League history to help Southampton edge ever closer to safety.
“It is the best mentality to get the points available. If we don’t play with that feeling it is difficult to get results.
The striker put Saints ahead after 7.69 seconds after charging down Craig Cathcart’s clearance.
But his first-minute goal was cancelled out by a last-minute one from Andre Gray as Watford secured a 1-1 draw.
The strains of Sir Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ had barely finished booming over the loudspeakers when Long gave Southampton lift-off.
Amazingly, the goal actually came from Watford’s kick-off. Roberto Pereyra played the ball from the centre-circle back to defender Craig Cathcart some 40 yards from his own goal.
As Cathcart attempted to launch the ball up field, Long charged it down and raced through before lifting it over Hornets goalkeeper Ben Foster.
The goal was a fraction more than two seconds quicker than the Premier League’s previous fastest, scored by Tottenham’s Ledley King after 9.82 seconds against Bradford in December 2000.
As well as writing a little piece of history for himself, and becoming an answer to a pub quiz question, Long must have thought he had all but guaranteed Southampton’s survival until Gray struck.
Had they held on, Saints would have been eight points clear of Cardiff, who sit in the final relegation spot and have just three matches remaining.
As it is, the six-point gap should be plenty, with the mission of Ralph Hasenhuttl, the manager brought in to save them from relegation, almost complete.
Southampton are a shadow of the side that looked to be sleepwalking towards the drop under Mark Hughes, and they constantly worried FA Cup finalists Watford with their relentless pace and pressing in a frantic first half.
Redmond was also denied by a good save from Foster and Long headed two other presentable chances off target.
Watford looked shell-shocked after that early blow, but they staggered back in to life and began creating opportunities.
Gray planted a Will Hughes cross straight at Saints keeper Angus Gunn and Gerard Deulofeu curled narrowly wide.
The Hornets dominated after the break and Abdoulaye Doucoure attempted to convert a cross from Kiko Femenia but could only bundle the ball into Gunn’s arms.
Christian Kabasele felt he should have been awarded a penalty after a shove by Long in the area, but referee Mike Dean thought otherwise.
Deulofeu’s cross was cleared from under the crossbar by Maya Yoshida and Foster saved a point-blank Isaac Success shot.
But Saints could not hang on and Gray swept home from close range to lift Watford up to seventh and keep Hasenhuttl’s men looking over their shoulders a little longer.
Southampton striker Shane Long scored the fastest goal in Premier League history when he netted after 7.69 seconds in Tuesdays draw at Watford.
Longs goal came straight after the Hornets kicked off as he blocked a Craig Cathcart clearance before lifting the ball over Ben Foster.
“The manager said to make a quick start and put them under pressure,” Long said. “Its a nice record to have.”
King scored after 9.82 seconds against Bradford in December 2000 and Republic of Ireland international Long, 32, said he was surprised to have set a new mark.
“Ninety-nine times out of 100 you dont block them clearances, but I did and took a touch across him,” he said.
“Ben is an amazing keeper, he spreads himself so well so I knew before the game that the dink was a good finish against him – and it came off.
“Every game we try to force them into a long pass early and show intent from the first ball, I blocked it and it fell nicely.
The goal was just Longs fourth of the season, with three of those coming in his past four appearances.
His record-breaking strike at Vicarage Road looked to set to move fourth-bottom Southampton eight points clear of the relegation zone with three matches left to play, but Watford snatched a late point through Andre Grays close-range finish.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said the early goal showed his side had listened to his instructions as they looked to bounce back from Saturdays 3-1 defeat at Newcastle.
“I think it was a very good signal after the Newcastle game when I wasnt happy with the first half. They listened, especially Shane Long!” the Austrian said.
“Will the record be beaten? I think its not so easy – if you shoot from the halfway line you could do it but its not easy.”