A memorable night in the Premier League International Cup warranted plenty of praise from Under-23s boss Radhi Jaïdi, who was understandably delighted to have booked a place in the competition’s semi-finals.
Saints had to fight past an experienced Villarreal side to get there, with goals from Will Smallbone and captain Tom O’Connor securing a final four meeting with either Reading, Dinamo Zagreb or the winner of Leicester City vs Bayern Munich.
“A great win. A great performance,” Jaïdi said, smiling. “They showed a huge amount of will to achieve something for themselves and for the club.
“They did it tonight. Credit to their concentration levels at the end. They showed a huge amount of commitment and desire.
“We bounced back excellently from the Reading disappointment last week. And we've relied on some of the younger boys, who have stepped up tonight.
“I’m really pleased. I'm really proud of all of the staff around the Under-23s at the moment. It's a really healthy place to be. We've got great relationships with the players and that's reflecting on the pitch.
“Their spirit was massive; tremendous from all of them, including the players that came off the bench.”