30/07/2015: Saints 3-0 Vitesse
Saints recorded their first ever European win at St Mary's with a comfortable display against Vitesse. Ronald Koeman's side were a bit sloppy in spells, but the final score didn't flatter them in any way. The result leaves Saints with a good cushion going into the away leg in Arnhem next week.
Saints appeared to still be in pre-season mode early on. Vitesse had the first major chance, with Valeri Kazaishvili dragging the ball just wide of goal on 3 minutes. The visitors barely threatened going forward after that point. Saints struggled to get much fluency going during the first 15 minutes or so. The home side gradually gained control of the ball by slowing the tempo and building patiently from the back.
Saints also went direct at times. On 13 Eloy Room saved from Maya Yoshida, who had a free header from a corner. Yoshida had another opportunity a few moments later; smashing into the side netting after Victor Wanyama's initial effort was blocked. On 34 Steven Davis shot straight at the keeper after making space for himself with some good skill.
The home side made the breakthrough on 36. Graziano Pelle hammered the ball into the roof of the net, having been played through by Sadio Mane. Just before the referee was set to blow for half-time Saints were awarded a penalty after Mane was bundled over after turning his man. Dusan Tadic stepped up and calmly sent Room the wrong way.
Saints were conservative in attack during the opening stages of the second half. The team was content to control the ball in the middle and wait for their opportunities to arrive. Pelle had a good chance to add his second on 55, shooting over on the half volley after Rochdi Achenteh had given the ball away.
Koeman switched to a 4-2-4 on 63, bringing on Shane Long and Juanmi for the injured Jordy Clasie and Tadic. Saints lost something in midfield, with Vitesse feeling their way back into the game slightly. The away side had a good chance to pull the score back to 2-1. Maarten Stekelenburg made a very good save from Milot Rashica, who somehow wangled his way free in the box.
Vitesse struggled to create any further openings. Saints weren't at their best during the final 15 minutes, but did just about enough to remain in control. Long started and finished the third goal with some wilful running. The Irishman burst through the middle before the keeper came out to block the ball on the edge of the area. Juanmi picked it up, drove to the right of the box before crossing back to Long who headed in. Saints saw out the remaining minutes comfortably.
A reasonable performance, but still plenty of room for improvement. There was something lacking about Saints' attacking play at times. The cohesion and fluency wasn't always at the level it should have been, but there were some good moves put together at times. The game was played at a different tempo than your regular Premier League game, so with that in mind Saints did pretty well, even if the opposition weren't really up to much. At the risk of tempting fate, it's going to take something spectacular for Saints to throw this one away in Arnhem next week.
Stekelenburg: 7. Second half save a crucial moment in the game. Took a no nonsense approach with the ball at his feet
Cedric: 7. A solid competitive debut. Covered plenty of ground and showcased some decent skill
Fonte: 7. Didn't do a lot wrong. A steady display
Yoshida: 7. Distributed the ball well and solid defensively. Doing his chances of staking a claim for a regular starting berth no harm at all
Targett: 7. Rarely troubled defensively, but some good link-up play going forward
Wanyama: 8. Dominated the midfield, covering plenty of ground. Strong in the tackle and always alert
Clasie: 6. Fought hard in the centre of the park. Was missed slightly after he went off injured
Davis: 7. A bit sloppy early on, but made some decent attacking contributions later in the game
Mane: 8. Unstoppable at times. Makes even the most difficult of situations look easy, gliding past players with ease
Tadic: 7. Involved in some good interchanges in the final third
Pelle: 7. Got his goal and generally looked sharp in and around the box
Long: 7. Pace and willingness boosted Saints' energy levels in attack
Juanmi: 7. A nice assist for the final goal. Drew a few fouls with some clever play
Reed: Not involved too much after coming on late. May be needed next week following Clasie's injury
Saints: Pelle (36) Tadic (45) Long (84)
Attendance: 30,850 (1,357 Vitesse fans)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Saints line-up: Stekelenburg, Cedric, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Wanyama, Clasie (Juanmi 63), S Davis, Mane (Reed 85), Tadic (Long 63), Pelle
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Martina, McCarthy, Ward-Prowse
Vitesse line-up: Room, Leerdam, Kashia, Achenteh, Diks (Lelieveld 90), Kazaishvili (Pantic 67), Oliynyk, Nakamba, Baker, Djurdevic (Rashica 60), Brown
Subs not used: Velthuizen, van der Werff, Osman, Dauda