REPORT: Southampton 0-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen

By SFC Media Sat 09 Aug Club

A second-half own-goal settled Saints’ final pre-season game, as Bayer Leverkusen sneaked a 1-0 win at St Mary’s.

The decisive goal will be a moment to forget for summer signing Graziano Pellè, whose low headed clearance edged past Artur Boruc and crept into the net for the game’s only strike.

Saints, who had won all five of their previous warm-up games, were given an excellent test by their German visitors, with manager Ronald Koeman able to get a better idea of how his first team selection for the Premier League season will shape up at Liverpool in a week’s time.

Koeman’s team for this game was unchanged from the one that began the 3-1 win over Brighton, with Saints lining up in a now familiar 4-3-3 formation that saw Isgrove and Tadić playing either side of Pellè up front.

The first half saw little action in front of goal however, with a slow start to proceedings, though Isgrove in particular made some testing breaks down the left to try an unsettle Leverkusen early on.

Saints put some neat moves together in the opening exchanges, with Pellè, Clyne, and Davis involved to create a half-chance on 18 minutes, before the first effort on target came three minutes later.

It came from an in-swinging corner that Tadić took, which landed at the feet of Yoshida, whose close range shot was blocked by Leno and bounced up favourably for the German shot stopper as he gathered the ball at the second attempt.

Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno was forced into a save before the break when Tadić played a one-two with Clyne and then the Serbian saw a deflected shot fly towards the top right corner, but the German ‘keeper reached high to tip the ball over for a corner.

The visitors made a clutch of substitutions at half-time with five changes made in all, including the introduction of Stefan Kiessling in attack and midfielder Simon Rolfes, who each added a physical presence to the middle of Leverkusen’s team. 

Saints fell behind in unfortunate circumstances in the 56th minute. Hakan Calhanoglu’s scuffed corner from the right, bounced up awkwardly inside the area, and as Pellè attempted to clear the ball, he inadvertently headed past Boruc whose scrambled effort to stop the ball didn’t come off.

The introductions of Gaston Ramírez and new loan addition Saphir Taïder just past the hour mark added a new spark to the hosts’ creativity, with the latter seeing a deflected strike loop narrowly over Leno’s goal on 64 minutes.

Clear chances remained at a premium though, with Ramírez striking a fierce effort over after another set of changes from the visitors, as Leno remained largely untroubled.

At the other end, the steady Ryan Bertrand spared Saints’ blushes by hooking Julian Brandt’s goalbound shot away from the net after the substitute had broken through into a one-on-one with Boruc whom he had dinked the ball past, but without any real strength.

Emmanuel Mayuka and Jack Cork each got a run-out for the final quarter of an hour, but the resolute work from Leverkusen made it difficult for the duo to get involved in the final third, leaving the visitors able to claim the spoils of an otherwise even, if uneventful contest.

Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, José Fonte (c), Maya Yoshida, Ryan Bertrand, Victor Wanyama (Emmanuel Mayuka 76), Steven Davis (Jack Cork 76), James Ward-Prowse (Saphir Taïder 61), Dušan Tadić, Lloyd Isgrove (Gastón Ramírez 61), Graziano Pellè. Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis (GK), Jos Hooiveld, Harrison Reed, Matt Targett, Jack Stephens, Sam McQueen.

Bayer Leverkusen: Bernd Leno, Stefan Reinartz (Wendell 46), Emir Spahic (Philipp Wollscheid 68), Heung-Min Son (Stefan Kiessling 46), Josip Drmic (Julian Brandt 46), Hakan Calhanoglu (Valdlen Yurchenko 68), Sebastian Boenisch (Roberto Hilbert 46), Omer Toprak (Jedvaj 68), Giulio Donati (Simon Rolfes 46), Gonzalo Castro (Levin Oztunali 68), Karim Bellarabi (Robbie Kruse 68). Unused substitute: Dario Kresic (GK).

Goal: Pellè OG (56)

Referee: Mike Jones

Attendance: 17,690

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