Claude Puel left Wembley with mixed feelings after a "fantastic" Southampton suffered a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United in the EFL Cup final. He praised his side's attitude in adversity after Manolo Gabbiadini was wrongly denied a goal for offside before Jose Mourinho's side took a late lead though Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Saints had been the better side during the first minutes of the game but Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard gave United a two-goal lead before the interval. Puel's side managed to react and battle back thanks to two goals from Gabbiadini either side of half-time.
Oriol Romeu hit the post just minutes after Gabbiadini's equaliser and gave Southampton hope. However, Ibrahimovic popped up again with only three minutes remaining to score a dramatic late winner for United.
"First of all, congratulations to Manchester United. It was a clinical result. It's a big disappointment for all of the team, for all of the fans, because I think we played a fantastic game, with quality and with many chances," Puel said after the game.
"The scenario was cruel in the end. We started the game very well and we scored, but the decision of the referee [on the disallowed goal] was very hard to accept."
Jose Mourinho admitted after the game that Southampton deserved to take the game to extra time as Puel highlighted his side's recovery from an undeserved two-goal deficit.
"The first two shots of Manchester United gave them two goals and that made it difficult. But my players kept a good attitude and spirit to come back just before half time and we continued this good work to equalise in the second half," he said.
"Before their third goal, we had lots of chances and situations to win the game. It's hard to lose this game, but it's football."