Saints edged by 10-man Inter

Southampton were left to rue their missed chances as 10-man Internazionale secured a narrow 1-0 win in the Europa League at the San Siro on Thursday. 

  • Internazionale 1 Southampton 0
  • Saints dominate first half
  • Rodriguez goal ruled out for foul
  • Candreva gives Inter unlikely lead
  • Brozovic sent off for hosts

Match Summary

The Saints bossed proceedings in the first half without finding the breakthrough and they were made to pay after the break when Frank de Boer's side opened the scoring through Antonio Candreva with their first shot on target.

The 77th-minute dismissal of Marcelo Brozovic provided a nervy finish to the European clash in Milan, but Inter managed to hold on for their first victory in Group K.

Full Report

Claude Puel's side created the better chances in the first half, although neither goalkeeper had a save to make before the break.

There was no goal-mouth action up until the 28th minute when Jay Rodriguez steered Sam McQueen's cross towards goal and although Samir Handanovic got a touch on the ball, the covering defender had to clear off the line.

Moments later the visitors threatened again as Cuco Martina teed up James Ward-Prowse on the edge of the area, but his shot flew narrowly over the crossbar.

The hosts were struggling to impose themselves on the match and they nearly went behind on 38 minutes as Shane Long flicked a cross towards the back post, where a lunging Rodriguez was just unable to get the final touch.

Inter finally fashioned a their first chance in the closing stages of the first half as Eder latched onto a headed clearance to fire inches wide of the left post from 20 yards out in the 41st minute.

The Saints had controlled proceedings in the opening 45 minutes, but the Nerazzurri looked much better after the break.

However, Rodriguez had the ball in the back of the net just six minutes into the second half from a corner, although the goal was disallowed as he had climbed over his marker.

Mauro Icardi was then presented with an opportunity at the other end three minutes later after being fed by Eder, but his strike from 10 yards out flashed well wide of the target.

Moments later Charlie Austin went close with a strike from the edge of the box that flew narrowly wide of the left post, while Handanovic was finally tested on 59 minutes as Dusan Tadic let loose from range.

But Inter took the lead against the run of play on 67 minutes when Davide Santon sent a low cross into the area from the left and Candreva hit a beautiful first-time shot into the top left corner of the net from 12 yards out.

The goal seemed to invigorate the hosts as they began to pose more of a threat. Icardi skinned two defenders with a neat turn inside the area, but saw his shot blocked on 72 minutes.

Inter then suffered a setback six minutes later when Brozovic received his marching orders for a second yellow card, leaving them to play the final 12 minutes with just 10 men.

 Virgil van Dijk almost made them pay on 82 minutes as he connected with Ward-Prowse's free-kick, but his effort from point-blank range was straight at Handanovic.
The Nerazzurri survived another scare on 88 minutes when Steven Davis saw his header from a Ward-Prowse cross cleared off the line, before Austin was denied by a superb save by Handanovic a very close range from a corner.

Ward-Prowse had a final chance to level the match in stoppage-time, but his strike from outside the box flashed just wide of the right post as Inter held on for the win.

Highlands Park v Chippa United

Highlands Park will hoping to hand new coach Gordon Igesund the perfect start when they face off against Chippa United in the Telkom Knockout last 16 at the Makhulong Stadium on Friday.

Igesund was announced as the new man at the helm for the Premiership newcomers this week, with Allan Freese and his assistant, Thierry Mulonzo, moving to the development structures of the club.

Igesund has returned to the Lions of the North, 47 years since playing for the club as a striker in the 1970's.

However, the prospect of an in-from Chilli Boys led by the eccentric Dan Malesela, will be a difficult proposition for the experienced four-time Premiership-winning coach.

In an attack-minded set-up based on midfield flair, Chippa will provide Highlands Park plenty of problems in Tembisa, in their first-ever meeting.

The likes of Thamsanqa Sangweni and Thembinkosi Lorch will be prominent figures going forward for the PE club, while Igesund will have to rely on the experience of Thanduyise Khuboni in the middle of the park to nullify the attacking threats of the visitors.

Veteran striker and last season's Premiership top-scorer, Collins Mbesuma, has already bagged three goals this campaign and will be hoping to add to that tally, with Igesund likely to deploy the Zambian alongside the explosive Charlton Mashumba.

Komphela admits critcism was painful

Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela claims the past few months of media speculation and criticism from fans was a painful time for him.

Amakhosi have turned the corner with a four-match winning run that has seen them rise to the Premiership summit, albeit against a lower standard of opposition - it's a far cry from the dismal form shown previously under the guidance of Komphela.

Wins over Ajax Cape Town, Free State Stars, Maritzburg United and Highlands Park has seen the pressure lift off his shoulders and Komphela admits his trophyless debut campaign is what hurt him the most.

"There are certain books that I just go and read, and those books will define what you are going through," he told the Sowetan.

"The minute that definition is given, you get the comfort and say, 'by the way, I did not expect any less'. Sometimes it is painful, but it's a way of making you grow as a person.

"And under such, you try to say less and only request for more time and more strength that you should do more. Up until that time, the question marks shall forever remain. Better to focus on the job at hand, so the response will be on the field.

"There is a stage where we and Itu [Khune] were having a discussion that if you are good you got to face the storms. The speed at which you travel will equal the pressure of the wind you face. It is a fact of life."

Mosimane warns victory isn't set in stone

Pitso Mosimane has warned Mamelodi Sundowns they have not yet won the CAF Champions League, despite taking a healthy 3-0 lead to Egypt against Zamalek.

The Premiership champions put the five-time Champions League winners to the sword in the first leg of the final with goals from Anthony Laffor, Tebogo Langerman and an Islam Gamal own-goal. 

Despite many feeling that the Masandawana already have the trophy in the bag ahead of their trip to Cairo, Mosimane warned that the White Knights have already scored four goals at their home ground therefore the result isn't a foregone conclusion.

"No doubt there will be pressure and hostility from the fans but we are ready for anything," he told the official CAF website.

"I hear a lot of people saying it's already in the bag for Sundowns but this is football and we must never forget that they have scored four at home in this very competition.

"It would be very foolish to consider ourselves champions without kicking a ball. We got the advantage that we needed at home but the last hurdle is on Sunday.

"With the backing of the crowd, we know that they will be coming at us from the onset but this will give us the perfect opportunity to catch them with our speed on the break."

Sundowns will look to complete another double over Zamalek, having already defeated the Egyptian giants three times in the competition thus far, following 2-1 and 1-0 wins in the group stages.

The two teams will square off at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Sunday.

Tinkler eager to improve his attack

Cape Town City coach Eric Tinkler was pleased to beat Bloemfontein Celtic in the Telkom Knockout on Wednesday, but lamented his side's shortcomings in the final third.

City, who were competing in the competition for the first time, beat Celtic 2-0 at Cape Town Stadium, but the goals arrived late in extra-time after they struggled to break down the visitors in regulation time.

Tinkler was satisfied with his team's defensive performance on the night and with their progress into the quarter-finals, but wanted to see more in attack.

"It's that final third that's been our problem of late," Tinkler told SuperSport in his post-match interview.

"And in the first 90 minutes, it was a bit of the same really – it was only really in that second period of extra time that the spaces started to open and we caught them on the counter and got the goals. But that was also because of tired legs.

"Before that, we really struggled to break them down. I thought defensively, we were good tonight, which was extremely important.

"That's been our weakness over the last couple of games - defensively, we've been conceding very cheap goals. They're very dangerous on the break and have a lot of speed and power going forward, and I thought we dealt with it very well.

"Over the 90 minutes, not entirely impressed. I don't think we created enough, but we need to work on that. There's still a lot of work that needs to be done, but happy to get through to the next round."

Bilic gives updates on Ayew and Carroll

West Ham boss Slaven Bilic has provided injury updates on Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll - the duo having missed most of the season so far.

The Hammers have been boosted by the return of Ghanaian winger Ayew, who resumed training for the first time in months, after sustaining a hamstring injury in the 2-1 loss to Chelsea.

"He looks good, and okay it was only a few sessions, but we are going to try and prepare him for games as quick as possible," Bilic told the club's official website.

"But we don't want something to happen in that process at the same time. It's great that he is back. It's difficult to judge when he'll be back on the pitch. He's improving in every session.

"He was out for a long time and as I said, we want him back, but is he ready for games at the moment? Probably not. He needs more time and intensity in training."

The former Croatia international also spoke on the peculiar nature of Carroll's latest knee injury, which will leave the striker sidelined for a lengthy spell.

"It was a very strange injury that happened in a game in Romania. He stayed on the pitch for the whole game and we didn't notice he'd got injured until the next day," Bilic said.

"Now, it's longer than we had first thought. All I can say is that he's working hard and is progressing, but it's longer than expected.

"It's not the speed we and he wanted, but hopefully soon he'll be ready to train with us. I am speaking to him and the medical team every day about it."

Russ cleared to return after cancer treatment

Marco Russ has been told that he is ready to start the rehabilitation process after undergoing treatment for testicular cancer.

The Eintracht Frankfurt defender was diagnosed in May and underwent surgery. The treatment was a success and he has now been cleared to get back to football.

"Marco is healthy. Doctors have given him the permission to pursue his trade," Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac told reporters on Thursday.

"We are delighted about the news. Marco was here today and delivered the message. He will now try and catch up as soon as possible."

Russ declared in August that he wants to join the team during the mid-season break for training, saying: "In January, I want to take part in the winter training camp in Abu Dhabi."

Obaje claims interest from Russia

Nigeria Professional Football League top-scorer Godwin Obaje has revealed that a top Russian club is interested in signing him.

The 19-year-old turned heads in the NPFL this past season as he netted 18 goals for Wikki Tourists to help them finish third in the standings.

Obaje has since rejected reports linking him with a move to Atletico Madrid, but admitted that a team from Russian has been in contact with the Bauchi outfit.

"The chairman of my club told me about interest from a top side in Russia. I'm sorry I can't tell you the name for now," the teenager told the owngoalnigeria website.

"Hopefully in the coming days it will be made official, if talks are positive as planned."

Van Persie explains Man United departure

Dutch striker Robin van Persie has revealed that he left Manchester United because of Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.

The Fenerbahce striker was brought to Old Trafford by Ferguson in 2012 and helped the Red Devils secure the Premier League title that season, after netting 31 goals to claim the Player of the Year award.

However, when Sir Alex retired at the conclusion of that season, the Dutch forward struggled for form and eventually left for Turkey in 2015.

"We will never know. It could have been that I could have been a player for Manchester United today," he is quoted as saying by Sky Sports

"When I signed that was the idea, that Sir Alex would stay on for a few more years, but in football things change, you can't plan your own path or your coach's path.

"In this world you have to deal with how it comes."

"What happened happened. I don't think you have to make it bigger than it is," he added. "You shake hands and move on to the next chapter.

"I'm not that romantic, thinking 'that was the moment'. I will just do my lap, go in and prepare for tomorrow."

Fener occupy top spot in Group A in the Europa League, having recorded one win and a draw in their opening two fixtures, while Unityed occupy third place with three points to their name.

Favre: This is our last chance

Nice boss Lucien Favre says his side have no other option than to beat Salzburg in their Europa League clash at the Red Bull Arena on Thursday.

Les Aiglons are currently unbeaten in Ligue 1 and top the standings with seven wins from their opening nine matches, but inexplicably have lost both of their European ties this term.

Favre's charges were beaten 1-0 by Bundesliga side Schalke at home before being thumped 5-2 by Russian Premier League team Krasnodar.

They are bottom of the pile in Group I, with no points, although crucially Salzburg have endured the same start to their European campaign.

Speaking to the press ahead of this must-win clash, Favre said: "Obviously, this is our last chance. 

"We started with a defeat to Schalke. Away to Krasnodar, we could have done better and even won the match late on. That’s the way it goes. 

"Sometimes it turns your way, sometimes it doesn’t. But obviously, we need to get a result, otherwise it will become impossible. We only have one option: victory! But to win, we have to play... and play well."

When quizzed on Nice's opponents, he added: "They are in the same situation as us. I watched their matches and they could also have hoped for better.

"But they are a good side, regularly champions of their league. But we couldn’t hope for an easy group given our European ranking."

Favre tried to play down the possible absence of Mario Balotelli, who is currently struggling with a groin injury. 

"He trained well on Monday but was injured on Tuesday. We’ll see how it evolves," he explained.

"The media talks a lot about him because he has scored some important goals, but he still has a long way to go. He needs to keep working on his runs, his positioning... But he’s working very hard and often stays an extra half an hour at training. 

"It’s great to have him. When he scores, he’s happy and everyone is happy for him. When he’s in form, he’s a very important element of the team. 

"We have to do without him and we have already won three or four times in his absence. We have other good players."