Southampton crashed out of the Europa League at the play-off stage after suffering a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Danish side FC Midtjylland.
With the scores tied at 1-1 from the first-leg, the Danish Superliga champions led on away goals and they added to their advantage on the night, winning 1-0 with Morten Rasmussen grabbing the goal on 28 minutes.
Ronald Koeman’s side started well with Fonte and Steven Davis going close in the opening minutes but they rarely threatened after conceding and looked jaded throughout.
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Exiting from the Europa League at such an early stage is a massive blow for the Saints who had been tipped to go far in the tournament after breezing past Vitesse Arnhem in the previous round, winning 5-0 on aggregate. They currently occupy 18th position in the Premier League having yet to record a win.
Midtjylland players celebrate at the full time whistle
Image credit: Reuters
4’ - CLOSE! Fonte almost puts Southampton ahead with a goal bound header from close range but somehow it is hacked off the line.
5’ - BLOCK! The Saints should have the lead - Pelle delivers a cracking pass into the path of Rodriguez but instead of shooting from a wonderful position, the forward opts to play in Ward-Prowse whose shot is blocked and the chance is gone.
21’ - SAVE! Caulker finds Pelle in the opposition penalty area with a high cross and the forward does really well to hold up play, finding Davis who sees his stinging shot well saved by the goalkeeper. Best chance of the game so far.
28’ - GOAL - FC Midtjylland 1-0 Southampton! The hosts have taken the lead through Morten Rasmussen after Rodriguez conceded possession to Nielsen in a dangerous position and the full-back delivered a great cross for his team mate to slot home.
49’ - WIDE! Rasmussen heads inches wide after meeting a cross from Lauridsen. The forward has already scored this evening and he was left unmarked from a set-piece there.
61’ - PENALTY APPEAL! Poulsen falls to the ground inside the penalty area under the challenge of Romeu but the referee isn't interested and rightly so, it would have been soft.
81’ - JUST OVER! A really nice team move from Midtjylland almost results in a lovely goal but Pusic can't keep his effort down. The score remains 1-0 and Southampton have little under 10 minutes to salvage their Europa League dream.
Southampton have failed to score in either of their three previous away games in Scandinavia.
Southampton’s Europa League campaign is over before it really got started – The Saints had looked so promising in the earlier stage against Vitesse Arnhem with some tipping Koeman’s side to go far in the tournament. On this showing, however, they didn’t deserve a place in the group stage. Southampton lacked a spark and rarely troubled the Danish champions. Indeed, the decision to leave Dusan Tadic on the bench was questionable.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Pione Sisto (FC Midtjylland) – The tricky winger constantly troubled Southampton with his pace. The 20-year-old is highly rated in Europe and has a bright future ahead of him.
FC MIDTJYLLAND: Dahlin 6, Hansen 6, Sviatchenko 6, Lauridsen 7, Bach 6 Bak 6, Sparv 7, Poulsen 7, Anderrson 6, Sisto 8, Royer 6, Rasmussen 7. Subs: Pusic 6, Romer 5, Hassan 5.
SOUTHAMPTON: Stekelenburg 6, Martina 6, Fonte 6, Caulker 5, Yoshida 5, Targett 6, Romeu 5, S. Davis 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Pellè 7, Rodriguez 6. Subs: Long 5, Tadić 7, Juanmi 5.
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