Vitesse Arnhem Home
The eagerly anticipated return of European football to Southampton finally became a reality in what could well have been the club’s first competitive match in the month of July. In an ideal world, manager Koeman would have liked exemption until the Europa Cup play-off round, but he was making all the right noises about accepting the reality of round 3Q and fielded a strong team against Vitesse Arnhem – albeit with another revamped squad following a summer exodus of Clyne (greedily), Alderweireld (oddly) and Schneiderlin (understandably); injuries also contributed to debuts for Steklenburg, Suarez (with a shirt name of ‘Cedric’ that has to be ill-advised) and Clasie. Steaua Bucharest and Sporting Lisbon (several times) both got off to flying starts in previous ties by scoring away after poor Southampton defending, and Vitesse had an early opportunity to do the same but failed to take advantage. Saints then established control and should have broken through when a corner fell to Wanyama but his point blank shot was saved. In fact we had to wait until the 36th minute for the opener, but it was worth it for a slick passing move that ended with Pellè blasting home from Mané’s final assist. A corner just before the break could have provided the centre backs with a chance to continue their pre-season goalscoring but we ended up with Mané taking advantage of a busted play before being tripped for a penalty, converted by Tadić – the best of his spot kicks for Southampton. The second half looked set to develop into a rout, but that did not materialise, especially as Saints replaced Clasie (injured) and Davis with attacking players Long and Juanmi (real name Lopez, and another debutant). It could have looked awkward had Steklenburg not saved well from Rashika – admittedly his only serious action of the night. Arnhem’s realistic hopes for the tie rested on an away goal but their open-ness allowed Long to burst clear – although a heavy touch allowed the rapidly advancing goalkeeper Room to intervene, Juanmi followed up and kept his head to cross for Long to complete the scoring. Everything you could have asked from the evening really, except for Clasie’s injury and three unnecessary yellow cards.
LSSC Man of the Match: Victor Wanyama, continuing his good pre-season form