Thursday 17 August 2017

Inter punish wasteful Southampton

Inter Milan 1 Southampton 0

Inter Milan's Antonio Candreva celebrates after scoring a goal. Photo: Getty
Inter Milan's Antonio Candreva celebrates after scoring a goal. Photo: Getty

Declan Warrington

Southampton wasted the chance to take a significant step towards the Europa League's knockout stages with a disappointing defeat at Inter Milan.

Manager Claude Puel gambled in making six changes but on an evening when they could have built their lead at the top of Group K, they fell to third as Antonio Candreva's goal and Inter's first points kept the Italians in contention to progress.

Inter Milan's Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic blocks a shot on goal. Photo: Getty
Inter Milan's Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovic blocks a shot on goal. Photo: Getty

That Inter were reduced to 10 men meant further frustration in what had been such a glamour tie for Puel's team. Even with the success Puel has had, it seemed strange to rest Charlie Austin, Steven Davis, Jordy Clasie, Jose Fonte and Nathan Redmond for such an occasion. The latter had not even travelled to Italy, and had been as instrumental as the other four in the convincing display that secured Sunday's 3-1 defeat of Burnley.

In their absence, Jay Rodriguez, Shane Long, James Ward-Prowse, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Maya Yoshida were selected.

Perhaps a disjointed performance was therefore inevitable, but Rodriguez may reflect that had he shown greater confidence this could have been an important win.

He is still to truly recover from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in 2014 when producing his finest form, and at times it showed.

Inter Milan's Brazilian defender Joao Miranda (R) heads the ball with Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk. Photo: Getty
Inter Milan's Brazilian defender Joao Miranda (R) heads the ball with Southampton's Dutch defender Virgil Van Dijk. Photo: Getty

Through on goal in the ninth minute, he was in a fine position to score but instead hesitated and was dispossessed by Miranda. Later in the first half he again conceded possession when he should have shot.

Austin was introduced as a 48th-minute substitute when Long indicated an injury, but if there was optimism that his directness would prove the difference it soon vanished when Inter took the lead. A Rodriguez header had been disallowed for a foul when, from nowhere and with little threat, Davide Santon - once of Newcastle - sent a left-wing cross into Southampton's area. From there, Candreva produced a powerful finish into the roof of the net.

Marcelo Brozovic's dismissal, for a second yellow, presented a glorious opportunity but the best chance the visitors had was wasted on 82 minutes when Virgil van Dijk headed straight at 'keeper Handanovic.

Irish Independent

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