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Southampton earn Europa League point in Israel

Jake Hesketh

Southampton beat Sparta Prague in their opening Group K game

Southampton earned a valuable Europa League point against Hapoel Be’er-Sheeva from a dour affair in Israel.

The goalless draw came before a club statement about corruption allegations against assistant boss Eric Black published by The Daily Telegraph.

The game improved after a poor first half, James Ward-Prowse forcing a save from long range and Maor Melikson and Ben Sahar each going close for Hapoel.

Southampton and Hapoel are level on four points at the top of Group K.

They are one ahead of Sparta Prague, who inflicted a second defeat on Inter Milan after the Italian giants lost their opener 2-0 at home to Hapoel.

That Hapoel have already won in the San Siro and are unbeaten in 23 games at their new Turner Stadium makes this a worthy point for a Southampton side who had won their previous four and made seven changes from Sunday’s Premier League victory at West Ham.

However, it was not a great spectacle for the 300 Saints fans who made the 3,000-mile journey to the Israeli champions.

After Virgil van Dijk nearly hit the corner flag with a header from an unmarked position in the six-yard box, the hosts dominated the first half, forcing Southampton boss Claude Puel to withdraw 19-year-old Jake Hesketh if favour of Dusan Tadic after only 33 minutes.

Still, the home side forced no clear chances of note, meaning the game could improve in the second period.

With Saints showing more intent, Ward-Prowse cut in from the left to shoot low and call home keeper David Goresh into action.

However, it was Hapoel who came closest to finding a winner. The impressive Melikson shot wide from inside the box, former Chelsea man Sahar fired off target from outside the box when given a clear sight of goal and Ovidiu Hoban forced Fraser Forster into a smart save.

But the deadlock remained unbroken, with Southampton facing a long journey home before a Premier League trip to Leicester City on Sunday (14:15 BST).

Southampton manager Claude Puel: “It’s a good result. We played a very good team. When you cannot win a game it’s important to take one point and it’s an important point for the future.

On substituting Hesketh after 33 minutes: “It was a tactical problem. It’s a young player and a good experience for him, but the pressure of the fans and the players he was up against were very difficult. It was important for me to protect Jake.

“It was a difficult game, this team won 2-0 at Inter Milan. They are physical, tactical and technical. It’s a good result and important to take a point.”

Live Text

Match ends, Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0, Southampton 0.

Second Half ends, Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0, Southampton 0.

Attempt blocked. Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by John Ogu.

Attempt blocked. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Ben Sahar (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Ben Sahar (Hapoel Be’er Sheva).

Maya Yoshida (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Southampton. Pierre-Emile Højbjerg replaces Nathan Redmond.

Foul by Ben Bitton (Hapoel Be’er Sheva).

Shane Long (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Tony Nwakaeme (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Miguel Vítor with a headed pass.

Corner, Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

Attempt saved. Ovidiu Hoban (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Maor Bar Buzaglo.

Attempt saved. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt missed. Shir Tzedek (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Maor Bar Buzaglo with a cross following a set piece situation.

Substitution, Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Ovidiu Hoban replaces Maharan Radi.

Maor Bar Buzaglo (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Matt Targett (Southampton).

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Miguel Vítor.

Attempt saved. Shane Long (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse.

Attempt missed. Tony Nwakaeme (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

Substitution, Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Maor Bar Buzaglo replaces Maor Melikson.

Attempt missed. Maor Melikson (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Tony Nwakaeme.

Offside, Southampton. Oriol Romeu tries a through ball, but Nathan Redmond is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Oriol Romeu (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right following a set piece situation.

Substitution, Hapoel Be’er Sheva. Ben Sahar replaces Lucio Maranhão.

Miguel Vítor (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Miguel Vítor (Hapoel Be’er Sheva).

Dusan Tadic (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Cuco Martina (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Jordy Clasie.

Attempt blocked. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Targett.

Offside, Hapoel Be’er Sheva. David Goresh tries a through ball, but Tony Nwakaeme is caught offside.

Attempt missed. Oriol Romeu (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Attempt saved. James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt missed. Lucio Maranhão (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Ben Bitton with a cross.

Second Half begins Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0, Southampton 0.

First Half ends, Hapoel Be’er Sheva 0, Southampton 0.

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse.

Loai Taha (Hapoel Be’er Sheva) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nathan Redmond (Southampton).

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/37498546