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Rodriguez on a hot streak
10:14pm Thursday 26th December 2013 in Sport
Rodriguez capped a scintillating display against Cardiff with two goals and an assist, helping Saints snap their six-game winless streak in style.
The 24-year-old’s brace takes his tally for the season to eight in the league – two more than he managed during the entirety of the previous campaign.
Rodriguez is Saints’ top scorer this term, and has been the club’s most potent goal threat under Mauricio Pochettino’s management.
Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge, the first-choice strikeforce for the national team, are the only English players in the Premier League to have netted more times than him this term.
Rodriguez still appears to be facing a struggle to make it onto the plane to Brazil with those two, though.
After failing to make any significant mark on his international debut, against Chile in mid-November, the former Burnley man’s chances have been dismissed by many.
Indeed, it is unlikely that he will be able to force his way back into Roy Hodgson’s reckoning at this late stage, especially with just one friendly scheduled between now and the England squad being announced.
But Rodriguez’s response following his international bow has been exceptional, and will surely not have gone unnoticed by Hodgson and his coaching staff, even if only when considering their post-World Cup plans.
This was a display that showcased all the best facets of the forward’s game – speed, energy, poise, balance and finishing.
Saints have certainly bought a lot with the £7m they paid to Burnley for his service 18 months ago.
Rodriguez had threatened to break in behind Cardiff’s high defensive line a couple of times before racing through the centre in the 14th minute and sliding in to convert Adam Lallana’s low ball across goal.
Six minutes later, he again eluded the Welsh side’s back line, latching onto a Rickie Lambert cross, which he finished with a crisp first-time strike.
There was more to his game than just the goals, however.
Rodriguez produced an excellent defensive header inside his six-yard box shortly before half-time to clear a dangerous Peter Whittingham corner.
He also nearly laid on a first ever Saints goal for Luke Shaw, with a perfect through pass.
Earlier, he had also risen highest to meet a Calum Chambers delivery, with the ball dropping to Lambert, who added Saints’ third.
“Three-nil to the Engerrrland,” roared the Saints fans in one corner of the Stadium.
Rodriguez might have to wait a little while yet before getting another chance in a Three Lions shirt, but at this rate he looks like a man who has earned it ...
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