There is a school of thought that says Southampton would not have been too disappointed at being dumped out of the Europa League before it had really begun. I don’t believe that for a minute, so the coaches had to raise morale before taking on Norwich at St. Mary’s. They would have been helped by the return of Mané and Soares to the starting line-up, but Wanyama’s absence continued, with the player now saying he is not ‘mentally in the right place.’ Maybe he doesn’t like that song as much as the rest of us, but he’s in danger of being called ‘the greedy Kenyan’ if it persists. Anyway, everyone would have started on the right foot had Ruddy not pulled off a fine save to keep out an early free kick from Ward-Prowse. It could then have turned awkward, but Jerome missed a very scoreable chance for the Canaries, and that was really the last time they threatened until the closing stages. The reason is mainly down to one Steven Whittaker who picked up a caution for preventing a quick throw-in and then pulled back Tadić from not the most dangerous of situations. I’m told that Tadić has taken to Twitter to express his views on team tactics (and his recent lack of selection, no doubt), but he didn’t need an iPhone to indicate what action he expected from referee Moss – he was not disappointed. Hoolahan was sacrificed to the bench as Norwich introduced a replacement defender, but that didn’t stop Saints from taking the lead just before the break; a nice finish inside Ruddy’s near post by Pellè thanks to an assist by Mané. Mané found himself wide on the right for the second half as Ronnie introduced Rodriguez in a successful ploy aimed at stretching the visitors. Both Rodriguez and Pellè went close before Saints grabbed a crucial second goal, scored by Tadić after Mané’s cross found the space vacated by the missing man. A third soon followed, tapped in by Tadić after Ruddy had heroically kept out Pellè’s header from a cross by Soares. We mustn’t lose track of it being a lot easier to play against 10 men (usually, anyway), but this was more like it from Saints!
LSSC Man of the Match: Dušan Tadić, his goals edging out both Mané and Romeu.