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Saints battle back for famous win over Inter Milan

Southampton beat Inter Milan

There were just four minutes and 57 seconds between both Southampton goals

Southampton remain on course to reach the Europa League knockout phase after fighting back to earn a memorable win against Italian giants Inter Milan.

Inter scored with their first shot on target when skipper Mauro Icardi pounced to smash in a loose ball.

Dusan Tadic missed a controversial penalty in first-half injury-time, but Virgil van Dijk hooked in to level as Saints improved after the break.

And they claimed all three points after Yuto Nagatomo’s own-goal howler.

The Inter defender, under little pressure, allowed Tadic’s left-wing cross to bounce off his thigh and loop over his keeper Samir Handanovic.

Victory keeps Saints second in Group K with seven points from their four matches, meaning they could clinch a last-32 place if they win at leaders Sparta Prague in their next game on 24 November.

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Saints march on as Inter fall

Southampton’s rapid rise over the past seven seasons might be still fresh in the memory of most football observers, but hosting one of the world’s biggest clubs in a competitive European fixture offered a reminder to those who had forgotten.

The fortunes of the two clubs back in the 2009-10 season could not have been more stark.

Inter were being managed by Jose Mourinho, had a star-studded squad led by Javier Zanetti and Samuel Eto’o, and went on to win an unprecedented Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia treble.

Southampton won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. And, after entering administration the previous year, they went on to finish seventh in League One.

No wonder a fervent home crowd of over 30,000 greeted this victory with the sort of elation usually reserved for a trophy-lifting celebration.

The Nerazzurri are far from the force of old, lacking the star names of years gone by and unable to replicate their success as a consequence.

And the 12th-placed Serie A side arrived in England having sacked manager Frank de Boer on Tuesday, replacing him on a temporary basis with youth-team coach Stefan Vecchi.

Nevertheless beating a club of such magnitude – 18-time Italian champions and three-time European champions – represents arguably Southampton’s greatest night in continental competition.

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Michail Antonio, Adam Lallana, Papa Waigo and Rickie Lambert helped Southampton win the Football League Trophy in 2010, while Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho celebrated lifting the European Cup two months later

Saints not Inter deja vu

Two weeks ago, Inter snatched an undeserved 1-0 win in the reverse fixture at the San Siro thanks to Antonio Candreva’s second-half goal.

After 45 minutes it looked as though Southampton might be left frustrated again.

After 90 minutes it was a victory that never looked in doubt.

Inter skipper Icardi put the visitors ahead with their first shot on target and many Saints fans probably feared the worst as their team trailed at the break following a chaotic end to the first half.

Polish referee Pawel Gil failed to send off Candreva for violent conduct after striking Saints defender Sam McQueen in the face, shortly after Saints were awarded a fortunate penalty for an accidental handball by Ivan Perisic.

Tadic faced a long wait as the situation was diffused, then saw his tame spot-kick blocked by Inter’s penalty-saving expert Samir Handanovic.

But any perceived injustice that Southampton had from not having an numerical advantage was channelled positively after the break.

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Handanovic has saved seven of the 16 penalties faced since 2014-15 for Inter (43.8%).

Post-match reaction

Southampton manager Claude Puel:

“I am happy for all the fans and players. They saw a very good game with a good result. It is a fantastic scenario.

“It was difficult at the beginning. We dominated all the game but we lost a goal and missed a penalty. But we did very good work.

“We knew how important it was to win tonight. It is a good result but we are not finished yet. We want to qualify. The work is not finished.

On whether Candreva should have been sent off: “Yes I think he should have been. Also there was a foul for their goal.

“It was important to continue the way we were playing and comeback in the second half. We played a good game. This is really important for my players to know they have such character in difficult situations.”

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk:

“The most important thing was that it was well deserved. We played good football, we were the dominating side, like before in Milan and today we rewarded ourselves with a win.”

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Inter Milan caretaker coach Stefano Vecchi:

“Southampton played with a lot of intensity. We faded in the second-half in terms of how we managed the ball, but the players gave everything.

“Southampton scored a couple of fortuitous goals and we lost the game. We need the rub of the green, which we are not getting.

“Some of our physical limitations came out in the second-half. When we started to tire, we needed to take the sting out of it. We dropped deeper and that can be lethal.”

What’s next?

Ninth-placed Southampton return to Premier League action when they travel to Hull City on Sunday (14:15 GMT).

Inter, along with continuing the search for a new manager, must focus on improving their Serie A position, starting with Sunday’s home game against bottom-side Crotone.

Live Text

Match ends, Southampton 2, Inter Milan 1.

Second Half ends, Southampton 2, Inter Milan 1.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Felipe Melo.

Nathan Redmond (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan).

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan).

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

Miranda (Inter Milan) is shown the yellow card.

Offside, Southampton. Nathan Redmond tries a through ball, but Charlie Austin is caught offside.

Substitution, Inter Milan. Jonathan Biabiany replaces Antonio Candreva.

Attempt missed. Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high.

Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (Southampton) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan).

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Felipe Melo (Inter Milan).

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Samir Handanovic.

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

Substitution, Inter Milan. Felipe Melo replaces Assane Demoya Gnoukouri.

Attempt missed. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Charlie Austin.

Attempt saved. Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Substitution, Southampton. Steven Davis replaces Dusan Tadic.

Foul by Charlie Austin (Southampton).

Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Nathan Redmond (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan).

Corner, Inter Milan. Conceded by Sam McQueen.

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Dusan Tadic with a cross following a corner.

Substitution, Inter Milan. Éder replaces Gary Medel.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Andrea Ranocchia.

Attempt blocked. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

Foul by Cuco Martina (Southampton).

Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Inter Milan. Conceded by Oriol Romeu.

Own Goal by Yuto Nagatomo, Inter Milan. Southampton 2, Inter Milan 1.

Goal! Southampton 1, Inter Milan 1. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner following a corner.

Oriol Romeu (Southampton) hits the bar with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Nathan Redmond following a corner.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Samir Handanovic.

Attempt saved. Virgil van Dijk (Southampton) header from the left side of the six yard box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Dusan Tadic with a cross.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Yuto Nagatomo.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37847418