Walker-Peters fires only goal in win over Levante


Kyle Walker-Peters struck the only goal of the game with his first for the club, as Southampton returned to St Mary’s with victory over Spanish opponents Levante.

Unlikely match-winner Walker-Peters must have left onlookers puzzled by the fact he’d never scored before when he drove an unerring shot into the bottom corner to net the winner in the 62nd minute, as Saints continued their impressive pre-season record with another win and another clean sheet.

Ralph Hasenhüttl named only four substitutes for the match, preferring to give his starting line-up the vast majority of the playing time. Only Nathan Tella, replaced late on, did not complete the 90 minutes.

There was good early intensity from Saints, donning their newly-released yellow and blue away kit, as an instant attack forced a corner straight from kick-off, ultimately leading to a shot over the bar from Nathan Redmond.

Redmond, on set-pieces in the continued absence of James Ward-Prowse through injury, was involved again when his free-kick curled into the danger zone and was glanced only narrowly wide by Jack Stephens.

With Nathan Tella partnering Ché Adams up front, the youngster picked up more central positions and was suitably tempted to chance his arm from 20 yards with a low shot that he dragged beyond the far post.

Levante had been pinned back, but found their rhythm to fashion a first opportunity in the 12th minute, as summer signing Roberto Soldado laid the ball off for José Campaña to curl one right-footed towards the bottom corner, sending Fraser Forster diving to his left and grateful to see the ball skip past his upright.

Saints’ best chance of the half arrived midway through it, as Tella peeled away to the right wing and whipped in a vicious cross that Levante could not defend, but Adams, however much he stretched, could not quite divert the ball on target at the far post.

Levante’s most threatening moment saw Jorge de Frutos dart to the byeline and cross the ball low for Dani Gómez, who attacked the front post with purpose but saw Forster in the right place to swat his shot, fisting the ball well clear of danger.

At the other end, Mohamed Elyounoussi almost picked out the top corner with a curling effort that just eluded the angle of post and bar.

The second period initially lacked the tempo of the first, though Tella did his best to inject some speed by breezing beyond his man and forcing a save from half-time replacement Dani Cárdenas, only to be called back with the ball deemed to have gone out of play in the build-up.

Instead it was Walker-Peters who brought St Mary’s to its feet just after the hour, galloping down the right in trademark style and scoring, in less familiar fashion, his first goal for the club.

Throwing in a couple of stepovers to confuse Levante’s Carlos Clerc, the flying full-back arrowed a low shot through the legs of his marker and into the far corner of the net for an eye-catching opener.

It was actually Clerc who came closest to equalising for the visitors, stepping on to a half-cleared corner to shoot first time through a crowded penalty area. That meant Forster must have seen it late, but still reacted in time to parry it behind for a corner.

Adams did not have a great deal to feed off but his industry and optimism almost earned the chance of an empty net when he chased a lost cause that threatened to unsettle Cárdenas, but the keeper’s blushes were spared by a covering defender.

Then home debutant Romain Perraud surged to the byeline to win a corner, from which Redmond’s delivery ought to have been converted by Mohammed Salisu, but the big defender could not control the finish from close range.

There were further chances for Saints to add to their lead, notably when Redmond hesitated with a clear sight of goal, before Ibrahima Diallo stung the palms of Cárdenas.