by LIAM RICHNER
Like Leicester last night, Southampton took to European competition like a duck to water, as Claude Puel’s side ran out 3-0 winners against Sparta Prague at St.Mary’s.
Charlie Austin, who was playing in his first continental match, netted twice, with Jay Rodriguez sealing the three points in stoppage time.
It was almost scary to see how comfortable the Saints were in their first ever Europa League group stage match, further showcasing the strength of the Premier League in comparison to it’s European counterparts.
Prague failed to really materialise any goal threat in the entirety of the game, and although it was an difficult night for the Czech side, they fell behind unfortuitously.
Austin’s cross was deemed to have been handled in the box, and although it seemed a harsh decision, the former QPR striker cooly converted the spot kick.
The Southampton no.10 then doubled his and his team’s goal tally for the night with a powerful header across goal.
Despite looking dangerous at times, neither side could really carve any opportunities in the second half, until Jay Rodriguez, a substitute for Austin, slotted home to make it a straight-forward evening at St.Mary’s.
Their biggest rivals in the group, Inter Milan, fell to a 2-0 defeat to Hapoel Be’er Sheva, the team that nearly knocked Celtic out of the Champions League a few weeks ago, at the San Siro.
SOUTHAMPTON 3-0 SPARTA PRAGUE
INTER MILAN 0-2 HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA
Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United tasted defeat for the second time in five days after they lost 1-0 to Feyenoord in Holland.
United made eight changes to the side that lost to Manchester City last Saturday, but the Red Devils struggled to take the game to the Eredivisie leaders.
Former Liverpool keeper Brad Jones was hardly tested, with Anthony Martial having the best effort for the Premier League side in the first half.
Tonny Vilhena scored the only goal of the game after he converted Nicolai Jorgensen’s cross with 11 minutes remaining. It was Feyenoord’s first win over an English opponent in 13 years, and keeps Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s side unbeaten this campaign.
It is now four consecutive defeats away from home in Europe for the Red Devils, who may be beginning to realise that the quality within the Europa League is almost on par with some Champions League sides, and cannot be taken lightly.
Some may feel the Europa League is not important, as the Premier League title is the one United fans have been craving since they last completed the feat in 2013.
They face relatively unknown FC Zarya Lugansk at Old Trafford on match day two, with the Ukrainian side conceding a last minute equaliser to Fenerbahce tonight.
FEYERNOORD 1-0 MANCHESTER UTD
FC ZARYA LUGANSK 1-1 FENERBAHCE