FC Mitdjylland Away
It all seems a long time ago when the Europa League play-off round draw paired Saints with a club we’d never heard of, never mind our being able to pronounce their name. Turns out that Mitdjylland, Denmark’s refugees from the Champions League, were more than capable of giving Saints a tough time and eventually booked their place in the group stage. We think Mitdjylland means mid-Jutland, with the club based in Herning, an unremarkable town in the middle of an unremarkable peninsula off the North German Plain. Not that it wasn’t a great adventure for the travelling fans, but it’s likely to be the last of its kind for a while as the team gave few indications of being able to score the at least one goal that they needed – an endeavour of very little competence, matched by the club’s administration of tickets ( but more will no doubt be written on that subject elsewhere). There was a header by Fonte cleared from somewhere near the M’land line, but it never really looked as though it would find its target as our stuttering attack failed to show enough flair. They weren’t helped in their efforts by Ronnie benching Mané and Soares (our best attacking defender) because of injury, and we were missing Wanyama, struck down by an illness widely being diagnosed as Lallana-itis. The five man back line was changed to a more orthodox four soon after the break, but by then M’land were ahead – a goal swept in by Rasmussen after Rodriguez had been badly caught in possession near the corner flag. Tadić, Long and Juanmi Lopez all came on to try and rescue things, and the foremost of those had some reasonable moments, but Mané’s pace wasn’t used as Mr. Koeman’s ideas seemed to have run out. The manager claimed that his team were the better side over the two legs, and that’s probably true, but M’land deserved their win on the night and we must wish them luck in the rest of the competition. The local paper described them as being in ‘drømmeland’ – this language thing can be quite easy sometimes, just a shame we won’t have another chance to speak foreign (this side of the visit to Sunderland, anyway).
LSSC Man of the Match: Cuco Martina, who did all that was asked of him at right back.