Saints ease to victory at Cardiff


Southampton chalked up their first win of pre-season with a comprehensive 4-0 victory at Cardiff City Stadium.

Theo Walcott steered in the opener towards the end of a first half that started slowly, before Saints really clicked into the gear after the interval.

Substitutes Moussa Djenepo and Ché Adams added further goals around the three-quarter mark with a pair of eye-catching finishes that underlined Saints’ Premier League class.

Adams then struck again to complete the rout six minutes from time, rounding goalkeeper Dillon Phillips at the end of a rapid breakaway led by the fleet-footed Nathan Tella.

Ralph Hasenhüttl was without influential duo James Ward-Prowse and Stuart Armstrong, who both missed the friendly through injury.

Saints enjoyed some comfortable early possession, with Oriol Romeu and Ibrahima Diallo patrolling the midfield, mopping up loose balls and drawing fouls.

Fraser Forster, given the nod to start in goal, was aggressive with his starting position and not shy in racing from his area to intercept anything in behind the defence.

Penetration was a problem for both sides, with neither goalkeeper called upon to make a save until the 35th minute.

Forster was the first to be tested, as Joel Bagan stung his palms from a rasping drive on the angle from 10 yards, but the keeper comfortably beat the ball back out.

That was the cue for Saints to take the lead seven minutes before the interval, as Michael Obafemi’s pressing won the ball deep in Cardiff territory, before the youngster lifted his head to pick out fellow Academy graduate Walcott, who steered in the opening goal with a calm, first-time finish.

All of the action came at the end of a first half that took a while to kick into gear, as Ryan Giles soon stole the ball from Mohammed Salisu and went eye to eye with Forster, but the giant keeper stuck out a leg to spare his defender’s blushes.

Salisu thought he’d made amends when Walcott turned provider five minutes into the second half, delivering a floated free-kick that was dispatched by a powerful downward header, only for unlikely scorer Salisu to be flagged offside.

The next chance was a Cardiff chance, as Mark Harris’s downward header sent Forster sprawling to his right, but he was there in plenty of time to push the ball behind.

Hasenhüttl waited 62 minutes to change things up, making seven changes, with Romeu and Diallo among the survivors.

The substitutes added fresh impetus to Saints’ attack, and Djenepo needed only four minutes to make his mark, jinking inside and curling a delightful shot into the top corner with a finish reminiscent of his goal at Brighton two years ago.

New-look strike force Adams and Shane Long both tested home keeper Dillon Phillips with low shots soon after entering the fray, before Cardiff made wholesale changes of their own 20 minutes from time.

Saints kept pushing and made their dominance count with a third goal when Tella slipped a pass in behind for Adams, who finished with admirable composure, cleverly lifting the ball over the advancing Phillips.

Tella might have added a fourth himself from Nathan Redmond’s cutback, but his shot was too close to Phillips, who parried the ball to safety.

Instead the promising attacker turned provider again, sprinting at the Cardiff defence and timing his pass just right for Adams, who rounded Phillips and rolled the ball home left-footed to complete a job well done for the visitors.