Saints cruise to victory in European return

Ronald Koeman made his intentions known as he named a strong side

Ronald Koeman made his intentions known as he named a strong side

Southampton 3-0 Vitesse 

Pelle 36

Tadic (pen) 45

Long 84

Attendance: 30,850

Southampton effectively secured their place in the Europa League play-off round with a comfortable 3-0 first leg victory over Vitesse Arnhem. Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long got the goals to ensure the hosts won their first European game since 2003.

Ronald Koeman’s line-up suggested that the Saints will take this competition seriously as he named a pretty much full strength team, however there was no space in the squad for Jay Rodriguez. The visitors named a youthful side with an average age of 23, which included three of their four Chelsea loanees.

Dusan Tadic sends the Vitesse keeper the wrong way from the spot

Dusan Tadic sends the Vitesse keeper the wrong way from the spot

Vitesse had the game’ first real opportunity, as Saints failed to deal with a ball forward but Kazaishvili dragged his shot wide. But Southampton grew in to the game, soon asserting their dominance over the visitors. Maya Yoshida and Victor Wanyama both spurned chances from corners before Pelle eventually opened the scoring.

New signing Cedric Soares played Dusan Tadic down the wing, who in turn found Sadio Mane. Mane played a tidy through ball to the Italian, who rifled a shot into the roof of the net. Southampton doubled their lead on the stroke of half time with Dusan Tadic converting a penalty. Sadio Mane was again involved, collecting a short corner and was barged off the ball as he drove in to the Vitesse box. Tadic stepped up and coolly slotted in to the bottom left corner, sending the keeper the wrong way.

The second half was more like a friendly, with both sides seemingly content with the result. Débutante Jordy Classie limped off with a hamstring injury on the hour mark and now looks a doubt for the Premier League opening fixture. After being ineffective for most of the match, Vitesse threatened to score an important away goal, with substitute Pantic forcing Stekelenberg in to a fine low save. A Lewis Baker free-kick wasn’t properly cleared by Southampton, but Rashica could only fire over from the edge of the box.

Shane Long's third goal effectively seals the Saints' place in the Play-Off round

Shane Long’s third goal effectively sealed the Saints’ place in the Play-Off round

But Shane Long completed the scoring late on, intercepting a loose pass on halfway and bursting through. Vitesse keeper Room did well to prevent Long from rounding him, but was powerless as Juanmi picked up the rebound and chipped back to the Irishman, who headed in to the empty net from six yards.

The scoreline perhaps flattered Southampton, who weren’t at their best, but their first half performance will give fans cause for optimism for the coming season. Classie’s injury and Mane being moved out wide left the team looking less fluid going forward, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the second leg, where Ronald Koeman can possibly afford to make a few changes.

Saints: Stekelenburg 7; Soares 8, Fonte 7, Yoshida 6, Targett 7; Wanyama 7, Classie 7 (Juanmi, 61, 7); Tadic 8 (Long, 61, 7), Mane 8 (Reed, 85), Davis 7; Pelle 7

Unused: Gazzaniga, Martina, McCarthy, Ward-Prowse

Vitesse: Room; Diks (Lelieveld, 90+2), Kashia, Leerdam, Achenteh; Baker, Nakamba, Qazaishvili (Pantic, 67), Brown; Djurdjevic (Rashica, 61) Oliynyk

Unused: Van der Werff, Dauda, Velthuizen, Osman


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