Europa League Group K
(Virgil Van Dijk, Yuto Nagatomo OG)
Inter Milan 1
St Mary’s Stadium
Southampton’s ticket bundle for all three home Europa League Group K matches really was a good deal. On top of the decent price for three games, European football on my doorstep is just a pleasure, just like when Stoke made the group stage back in 2011 when I lived 30 minutes from the Britannia Stadium.
I am back at St Mary’s for my fourth consecutive home game, I don’t think I have been to them many home games in a row but why not take advantage of top class football down the road, after all, I do invest a lot of time in Non League football, got to strike the balance somewhere.
Have a look at some of my previous visits to St Mary’s to see my comments on the ground.
Southampton came from behind to beat Italian giants Inter Milan 2-1 despite Dusan Tadic missing a first half penalty.
Milan captain Mauro Icardi had opened the scoring before Tadic saw his spot kick saved by Samir Handanovic.
Saints stand in captain Virgil Van Dijk levelled the scoring before an own goal from Yuto Nagatomo sealed the win for the home side, reversing the defeat at the San Siro two weeks previous.
Southampton had some good early chances but Jay Rodriguez could only fire into the arms of Handanovic before Nathan Redmond curled an effort around the wrong side of the post minutes later.
On 32 minutes it was the away side who opened the scoring when some sloppy defending allowed Mauro Icardi to fire in from 10 yards out. Antonio Candreva had done well to flash a ball low across the box and Cuco Martina failed to clear the danger and scuffed it to the Argentina international to fire home.
The home side were gifted a golden opportunity to level the scores when Croatian international Ivan Perisic was deemed to have handled the ball in the area when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg bustled his way into the box. The referee pointed straight to the spot and was confronted by numerous Milan players as they protested the decision. Amongst the melee, Tadic, who was waiting patiently to take the penalty was felled by a Milan player but the referee failed to deal with the incident.
Tadic brushed himself down but facing Handanovic, famous for saving penalties, the Slovenian guessed right to push the ball away and keep his side in the lead at the break.
The missed penalty rattled the fans and the players alike and Saints came out with purpose for the second period. James Ward-Prowse was unlucky with his long range effort which rolled down the middle to Handanovic.
Handanovic was in inspired form as he parried away another great strike from Ward-Prowse before reacting quickest to punch the ball away from the oncoming Rodriguez.
Saints were really piling on the pressure and Van Dijk went close when Tadic whipped in a great corner to the Dutch defender who headed at goal only for Handanovic to tip over the bar.
Saints did manage to equalise from the resulting corner. Tadic put the ball in and it fell to Redmond who touched to Oriol Romeu who looped his shot off the crossbar before Van Dijk smashed in the rebound.
Four minutes later Saints had reversed the score completely, taking the lead for the first time on the evening when Tadic played a fairly simple ball into the box but it bounced off Nagatomo and into the back of the net with no Southampton players anywhere near him.
The game was Southampton’s to lose but they carried on with there positive forward play as Redmond glanced a header wide on 74 minutes.
With Saints fans cheering every pass, Romeu gave the ball away to Icardi in an advanced position but Forster did well to get low and deflect the Milan captain’s long shot to guarantee the three points for the home side.
The win puts Saints second in Group K, just two points behind Sparta Prague with two games to go.
2016/17 Games: 53
2016/17 Grounds: 42
Total Grounds Visited: 177