UEL: Southampton’s victory over Inter has been four years in the making.

screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-18-09-54 by LIAM RICHNER

It has been nothing but progress for Southampton football club since their promotion from League One back in 2011. Yesterday’s famous victory over Inter Milan at St.Mary’s continues the recent uprise in the club’s stature, with the dark days of administration now long in the distance.

Back-to-back promotions under Nigel Adkins was the beginning of this fairytale story. At that time no one would have expected them to be where they are today, but here we are.

Think back to January 2013, and you’d remember fans and pundits alike slamming the sacking of Adkins. However, his replacement Mauricio Pochettino didn’t do too badly in his 18 months in charge.

The Argentine manager kept Southampton in the top flight, before guiding the club to its highest ever Premier League finish at the time (eighth).

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Jay Rodriguez couldn’t stop finding the net for Pochettino’s  Southampton side in 2013-14. (Image Credit: sportsmole)

He also helped develop a core of home grown talent during his tenure, including Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw.

Following in Pochettino’s footsteps was Ronald Koeman, who continued on his trends. The Dutchman had a debut season to remember in charge of the Saints. After finding themsleves around the top four spots for the first half of the campaign, Southampton ended 2014/15 in seventh place in the Premier League.

A year later, Koeman took the club a step further. A sixth placed finish, their highest to date, a record points total in the English top flight, and qualification for this year’s Europa League.

And so to present day six months on. Claude Puel is the latest man in the Southampton dugout following Koeman’s move to Everton, but the home fans must have been still been pinching themselves as Inter Milan’s players took to the pitch to warm up this evening.

The Italian giants have contrasted to the Saints rise of recent times. In fact, they won Serie ‘A’, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League back in 2010.

Six years and nine managers later, Inter are 12th in the Italian top flight, and sacked Frank de Boer earlier this week after their lacklustre start both domestically and in Europe.

When the two sides met at the San Siro two weeks ago, you’d been forgiven if you thought Southampton had more European pedigree for their valiant display.

An Antonio Candreva strike gifted Inter a 1-0 victory that evening, so home fans sensed vengeance this evening at St.Mary’s.

Mauro Icardi gave the Nerazzurri the lead on the South Coast with a tap in from six yards, before Dusan Tadic missed a penalty for the home side on the stroke of half-time.

The second half saw Southampton come out all guns blazing, and it was central defender Virgil Van Dijk who equalised after he reacted quickest to Oriol Romeu’s looping effort which came back off the crossbar.

Yuto Nagatomo will want to avoid TV replays of his own goal which gave Saints the memorable victory.

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The moment Southampton took the lead against Inter at St.Mary’s. (Image Credit: goal.com)

The win means that dreams of reaching the last-32 is still on for Southampton as their European journey looks set to continue.

The question is: With no sign of their continuous rise stopping, can fans begin to dream of Champions League football?

If they keep on the path they are on and at the same pace, then heck, why not?

After Leicester City’s  Premier League triumph last season, anything is possible!

 

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UEL: Saints cruise to victory, United fall to Feyenoord.

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 14.47.27 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.

GROUP K

SOUTHAMPTON 3-0 SPARTA PRAGUE

INTER MILAN 0-2 HAPOEL BE’ER SHEVA

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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.

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It was another miserable night for United away from home in Europe. (Image Credit: theguardian.com)

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.

GROUP A

FEYERNOORD 1-0 MANCHESTER UTD

FC ZARYA LUGANSK 1-1 FENERBAHCE

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