SOUTHAMPTON (Reuters) - If anticipation sharpens the appetite, just imagine the scenes which would have greeted Che Adams’ strike for Southampton.
Not because it was a goal which sunk mighty Manchester City, nor that it was an exquisitely timed lob from 35 metres out.
But because it was the striker’s first goal for a club which had signed him a year ago as a solution to a goal drought.
Things hadn’t exactly turned out as planned for Adams or the Saints. From notching 22 league goals for Birmingham City last season, he endured a barren first year at Southampton.
The youngster’s swagger had taken a bashing, but Adams’ team mates and manager formed a tight circle around the striker.
A week ago coach Ralph Hasenhuettl was on the pitch jumping and celebrating when he mistakenly thought Adams had opened his account in Southampton’s win over Watford, before realising the striker’s shot had crept wide.
“Everybody’s waiting for this moment and maybe it will come against Manchester City,” the Austrian boss said presciently.
And so it did, in some style.
Pressing the visitors high, Stuart Armstrong dispossessed a casual Oleksandr Zinchenko, the ball bobbled loose and Adams displayed the instinct the club had paid for all those months ago, timing his strike to perfection.
Instead of a seething backdrop of thousands of ecstatic supporters, though, a single press photographer lifted his lens as the ball bounced in the goal.
One lone character, in a dark jacket and face mask, bounced up and down pumping his arms in joy, looking around in vain for someone to join his celebration.
On the pitch Danny Ings was first to reach Adams, soon followed by captain Ward-Prowse. Their joy was obvious, as was Adams’ relief.
“It means the world to me,” he said, of the players celebrating together. “It’s been a hard couple of months, but we got there today.
“Obviously I’m buzzing, all the lads have helped me along the way. Everyone has kept faith in me including the fans, the staff, the players so I’m just delighted.
“From last week the lads were on their knees begging me to score... there was no hesitation at all. As soon as I looked up I knew what I was going to do.”
The win lifted Southampton to mid-table 13th on 43 points. City remain second on 66 points, 23 points behind already crowned champions Liverpool.
Editing by Christian Radnedge
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.