Goals from José Fonte, Sadio Mané and Graziano Pellè ensured Southampton’s pre-season trip to Holland got off to a winning start, as they beat FC Groningen 3-0.
As he returned to his hometown, and the club he made his professional debut with, Ronald Koeman watched on as his side comfortably saw off the Eredivisie outfit.
Fonte’s header came just after the 20-minute mark, before Mané applied an easy finish after a sweeping team move to make it 2-0. Pellè, on as a substitute, added a third to seal the win for Saints.
There was a start for Dušan Tadić on his return to the Euroborg, while Matt Targett started his first pre-season game. James Ward-Prowse was involved for the first time from the bench, along with new signing Jordy Clasie.
It was from a Tadić cross that Saints almost opened the scoring in just the first minute. The midfielder’s ball into the box found Maya Yoshida, but the defender couldn’t keep his header down and it sailed over the crossbar.
At the other end, Paulo Gazzaniga twice had to be alert to keep Mimoun Mahi at bay. The stopper clawed away the winger’s first effort from the edge of the box, before just a minute later pushing his curling strike to safety.
Mané, playing just off Shane Long, then almost made a goal out of nothing. The Senegalese international robbed a Groningen defender of the ball before racing into the penalty area, but could only watch on as his shot drifted just wide.
Moments later and Saints went even closer. Steven Davis’s corner found the head of Victor Wanyama, but the midfielder’s header rattled against the crossbar and bounced away from danger.
Saints did get their reward for a promising opening from their very next corner. Tadić’s outswinger was met by the head of Fonte, who nodded past Sergio Padt from six yards for his first goal since February 2014.
Fonte turned provider ten minutes later as his header back across goal from Davis’s free-kick found Yoshida, but the Japan defender lashed his strike over the bar.
Clasie was introduced at half-time for his first Saints appearance, along with Ward-Prowse and Cédric Soares, as Targett, Davis and Juanmi all making way.
It was the home side who created the first clear-cut chance of the half, with Gazzaniga having to be at his best to keep out Bryan Linssen’s effort before Lorenzo Burnet fired just wide.
The hosts would regret not making the most of those opportunities as Saints soon extended their lead. Tadić and Cédric combined well before the latter teed up Mané to fire home from close range.
Tadić, on his return to the Euroborg, was at the heart of everything going forward and it was his individual brilliance that helped Saints make it 3-0.
The Serbian beat his man before sliding substitute Pellè through on goal. The Italian striker made no mistake, stroking home from 12 yards.
Gazzaniga made another fine stop late on as he pushed substitute Jarchinio Antonia’s effort over the bar, while Fonte and Pellè were both denied by excellent Groningen defending on the line.
Three proved to be enough for Koeman’s men, as they kicked off their tour of Holland in the best possible way.
Southampton team: Paulo Gazzaniga, Cuco Martina, José Fonte (c), Maya Yoshida, Matt Targett (Cédric Soares 46), Victor Wanyama (Harrison Reed 82), Steven Davis (Jordy Clasie 46), Juanmi (James Ward-Prowse 46), Sadio Mané (Jay Rodriguez 67), Dušan Tadić (Sam McQueen 74), Shane Long (Graziano Pellè 67).
Southampton substitutes: Maarten Stekelenburg (GK), Kelvin Davis (GK), Jack Stephens, Jordan Turnbull, Josh Debayo, Lloyd Isgrove, Jason McCarthy.
Goals: José Fonte (24), Sadio Mané (52), Graziano Pellè (72)
FC Groningen team: Sergio Padt, Eric Botteghin (Johan Kappelhof 46), Lorenzo Burnet (Abel Tamata 74), Maikel Kieftenbeld (c), Michael de Leeuw (Danny Hoesen 74), Albert Rusnak, Mimoun Mahi (Jarchinio Antonia 61), Rasmus Lindgren (Martijn van der Laan 82), Bryan Linssen (Juninho Bacuna 74), Tom Hiariej, Hans Hateboer.
FC Groningen substitutes: Peter van der Vlag (GK), Johan Kappelhof, , Yoell an Nieff, Desevio Paye.