REPORT: Southampton 1-0 Athletic Club

By SFC Media Sun 07 Aug Club

Southampton rounded off their pre-season schedule with a 1-0 win against Athletic Club thanks to Shane Long’s first half goal at St Mary's.

In another useful workout for Claude Puel’s side ahead of their Premier League opener next weekend, the manager made one last check on his squad in a competitive contest against the Spaniards.

Long’s 43rd minute strike put the hosts in front during a half that Saints just about had the better of, with his well-taken one-on-one effort enough to separate the two sides.

There were four changes from the side that drew with Espanyol in midweek as Cuco Martina, Sam McQueen, Jordy Clasie and James Ward Prowse made way for Cédric, Matt Targett, Steven Davis and Pierre Højbjerg.

Saints started with a confident display in possession, with Redmond in particular, making a good early impression down the left side.

But it was the visitors who nearly stole a march in the 21st minute when Borja Viguera bore down on goal after robbing Oriol Romeu of possession, but Maya Yoshida got a vital touch on the ball to deny a shot at goal.

Viguera then also curled a strike wide of the target, before Saints stepped up their efforts in front of goal.

Redmond cut inside from the right to shoot from the edge of the area only to see his strike parried by Athletic ‘keeper Iago Herrerín, with Davis then following up with a fierce strike that cleared the crossbar.

Redmond then had what looked like would be the best chance of the half following a move that started from a deep position and ended with Tadić playing in the former Norwich man, whose clipped effort was deflected onto the post by Herrerín at the near post.

But a goal would follows soon after when another incisive piece of play saw Saints split Athletic’s backline when Steven Davis played in Shane Long, and the striker beat Herrerín from the edge of the area after the ‘keeper rushed off his line to meet him.

Claude Puel made four changes at half-time with José Fonte making his first appearance of pre-season for the second 45.

The crowd was treated to a marauding run from Virgil van Dijk shortly into the new half with the defender breaking into the area before seeing his attempted cutback for Long blocked.

Redmond and goal scorer Long were swapped for Charlie Austin and Jay Rodriguez who played the final 25 minutes of the game as the team’s front pairing.

And shortly after a flurry of substitutions from the visitors, Austin headed wide from fellow substitute Pied’s cross.

Despite the introduction of Athletic’s leading marksman Aritz Aduriz, Saints continued to look the brighter in front of goal, with Van Dijk heading wide at the near post from Ward-Prowse’s corner.

Saints were given a scare when Van Dijk went down injured, and although he was later replaced by Jack Stephens, there seemed to be no lasting effects from the knock as he made his way off.

Stephens helped Saints to confirm their clean sheet which saw Puel’s men take a win from their final warm-up fixture.

Southampton: Fraser Forster; Cédric (Jérémy Pied 46), Maya Yoshida (José Fonte 46), Virgil van Dijk (Jack Stephens 85), Matt Targett (Sam McQueen 74); Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Oriol Romeu (James Ward-Prowse 46), Steven Davis (Harrison Reed 74), Dušan Tadić (Jordy Clasie 46); Nathan Redmond (Charlie Austin 66), Shane Long (Jay Rodriguez 66)

Unused substitutes: Alex McCarthy (GK), Alfie Jones

Goal: Long (43)

Athletic Club: Iago Herrerín, Xabier Etxeita, Enric Saborit, Raúl Garcia (Mikel Vesga 46), Oscar Gil, Gorka Elustondo (Markel Susaeta 70), Guillermo Fernández (Javier Eraso 70), Ander Iturrapse (Mikel San José 70), Borja Viguera (Aritz Aduriz 70), Óscar De Marcos (Yeray Álvarez 46), Iker Munian

Unused substitutes: Gorka Iraizoz

Booked: Iturrapse (35)

Referee: Kevin Friend

Attendance: 17,758

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