Wednesday 7 December 2016

Southampton boss Koeman backs Virgil van Dijk to get even better

Published 27/09/2015 | 13:10

Virgil van Dijk headed his first goal in English football against Swansea
Virgil van Dijk headed his first goal in English football against Swansea

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk starred at both ends of the pitch against Swansea and boss Ronald Koeman believes he will get even better.

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Van Dijk, a £13million deadline-day signing from Celtic, headed Saints' opening goal in Saturday's 3-1 win at St Mary's.

The Dutchman also kept Swans striker Bafetimbi Gomis so quiet he was hauled off at half-time, and then did a similar job on substitute Eder in the second half.

Koeman said: "One of his qualities is he is a good header of the ball. He is also defensively strong and his personality is important for the team.

"He's only 24, it's his first season in the Premier League and he will get better."

Van Dijk was a regular goalscorer for Celtic, hitting the net 15 times in two seasons, and he was thrilled to get off the mark in England.

He shook off marker Jack Cork in the 10th minute to powerfully head in James Ward-Prowse's corner at the near post.

"I'm very pleased," he told Saints' official website. "It's been a dream come true already by playing in the Premier League.

"But scoring my first goal feels amazing and to get the three points as well makes it even better.

"If you look at my height I should be dangerous every time. We practice it a lot. It was the perfect example, I think, of a great corner and finish. It's been very good and I'm very happy with it.

"It's a very important win. It's good to get the win, especially at home against a team who is competing with us for a European place."

Dusan Tadic added the second goal with the aid of a deflection just after half-time and Sadio Mane slotted in the third on the hour.

Gylfi Sigurdsson grabbed a late consolation from the penalty spot after Jose Fonte tripped Neil Taylor, but Swansea were never at the races to the annoyance of manager Garry Monk.

"We were not at the right levels," he said. "We are making errors which is uncharacteristic because we've shown already this season the standards we can reach.

"We have to be consistent. The last two away games have just not been good enough. It's up to me to assess things and make sure they are right for the next game away."

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