Southampton were held to a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s by Spanish club Espanyol, as their preparations for the new Premier League season continued.
Oriol Romeu had set the hosts on the way with a first-half header, but his effort was cancelled out after the break by a Felipe Caicedo penalty, as Saints’ run of victories this summer was halted at four.
For manager Claude Puel and his team, it was another positive exercise, though, and they will now face one last test before the start of the new campaign, which begins at home to Watford on Saturday 13th August, with a game against another Spanish side, Athletic Club, at St Mary’s this Sunday.
Puel again went with a diamond in midfield, with Romeu at the base and Dušan Tadić at the head, with Nathan Redmond partnering Shane Long in attack.
Fraser Forster, making his second start of the summer, had to be alert to keep out Jose Reyes’s early shot from distance, while Marc Roque Junque bent a free-kick from 25 yards wide of the near post for the visitors.
Saints’ threat soon began to show, with Long beating Oscar Duarte to a ball down the inside-right and cutting it back to James Ward-Prowse, who skewed a first-time shot with his left foot into the body of Nathan Redmond, allowing Espanyol to clear.
Redmond then forced an excellent save from keeper Pau López in the 18th minute, drawing him into a superb stop low at his near post after Tadić had picked out his angled run across goal.
After Virgil van Dijk headed Tadić’s resulting corner wide, Saints nearly went behind, as Leo Baptista got free near the byline, only to slam a low shot onto the base of the post and away to safety.
Back at the other end, Tadić was presented with half a chance when a loose ball dropped to him on the edge of the area, but, with López out of position, he was unable to get enough power on his attempted looping header, with the ball landing in the arms of the grateful keeper.
The Espanyol stopper did not have such a simple save in the 31st minute, however, diving brilliantly to his right to divert Redmond’s thumping volley behind, after Cuco Martina’s driven delivery had picked him out in the area.
It was a short-lived reprieve for Espanyol, though, as James Ward-Prowse’s in-swinging set-piece was met by Romeu, who flicked a header into the far corner to put Saints 1-0 up against his former club.
It was nearly 2-0 moments later, as Tadić’s brilliant free-kick from 25 yards, which was curling into the top corner, was saved superbly by López at full stretch.
Saints continued to push for a second before half-time, and Redmond fired just wide of the near post from 18 yards, after an intricate run that took him past a couple of defenders, but there was to be no more goals before the break.
Puel made four changes at the interval, with goalkeeper Alex McCarthy on for his debut in place of Fraser Forster, while Jordy Clasie, James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long were taken off for Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Steven Davis and Charlie Austin.
Austin almost made an immediate impact, cutting sharply onto his right foot 20 yards out and drilling in a low shot that López got down well to hold.
Seconds later, Redmond received a pass from Davis on the corner of the area and cut onto his left foot, only to bend his shot wide of the far post.
Despite Saints’ pressure, though, the next goal of the game went the way of the visitors, after Virgil van Dijk was judged to have tripped Leo Baptista, allowing substitute Felipe Caicedo to send McCarthy the wrong way from the spot in the 69th minute.
Puel then made a triple change, sending on Jay Rodriguez, Lloyd Isgrove and Harrison Reed in place of Tadić, Redmond and Romeu, before Jack Stephens and Alfie Jones were brought on for van Dijk and Maya Yoshida in the closing stages.
There was to be no breakthrough for either side, though, as the team's played out a 1-1 draw at St Mary's for the second summer in succession.
Southampton: Fraser Forster (Alex McCarthy 46), Cuco Martina, Maya Yoshida (Alfie Jones 83), Virgil van Dijk (Jack Stephens 83), Sam McQueen, Oriol Romeu (Harrison Reed 71), Jordy Clasie (Pierre-Emile Højbjerg 46), James Ward-Prowse (Steven Davis 46), Dušan Tadić (Jay Rodriguez 71), Nathan Redmond (Lloyd Isgrove 71), Shane Long (Charlie Austin 46).
Unused substitutes: Jordan Turnbull, Yan Valery.
Goal: Oriol Romeu (32).
RCD Espanyol: Pau López, Javi López (Anaitz Marti Caricol 69), Aaron Caricol (Ruben Duarte 46), Victor Sánchez, Oscar Duarte, Alvaro Gonzalez, Hernan Perez Gonzalez (Salvador Sevilla Lopez 69), Jose Jurado Marin (Pablo Daniel Piatti 46), Leo Baptista (Gerard Moreno 83), Jose Reyes (Felipe Caicedo 57), Marc Roque Junque.
Unused substitutes: Carlos Clerc Martinez, Roberto Jimenez, Adrian Dalmau Vquer, Lluis Lopez Marmol, Alejandro Fernandez, Andres Prieto Albert, Michel Ciani.
Goal: Felipe Caicedo (69 pen).
Referee: Mike Dean.