Saints suffer defeat on opening day

By SFC Media time Sat 10 Aug Burnley v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson
Sat 10 Aug 3PM
Premier League
Barnes [63' 70'] Gudmundsson [75']
Referee: Graham Scott | Venue: Turf Moor | Attendance: 19,784

Opening days have rarely been fruitful for Southampton over the years, and the start of the 2019/20 campaign proved to be no different, as Saints’ season started with a 3-0 defeat at Burnley.

For more than an hour at Turf Moor it had been an evenly-balanced contest, but the game turned completely in a remarkable 12-minute spell, as the hosts produced a three-goal barrage to charge clear – Ashley Barnes netting twice before Johann Berg Gudmundsson added the finishing touch.

The day had started with manager Ralph Hasenhüttl being forced into a late change of plans, with captain Pierre-Emile Højbjerg feeling ill on the way to the ground, meaning he started on the bench, with James Ward-Prowse taking up the captain’s armband.

The Saints boss was able to hand a competitive debut to summer signing Ché Adams, though, with the striker starting alongside Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond in an attacking trio.

Ward-Prowse and Oriol Romeu took up the central midfield positions, with centre-backs Jack Stephens, Jannik Vestergaard and Jan Bednarek at the heart of defence, while wing-backs Yan Valery and Ryan Bertrand occupied the flanks.

Less than 90 seconds into the game, Valery nearly laid on the opening goal.

His brilliant delivery from the right picked out the run of Adams at the back post, with the striker stretching out his right leg as far as possible to reach it. He did indeed get to it, but could only divert the ball inches past the post, with Burnley keeper Nick Pope beaten.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: Ché Adams of Southampton looks to get on the end of a cross during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Southampton FC at Turf Moor on August 10, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Ché Adams goes close to scoring inside two minutes for Saints (Photo: Matt Watson)

All in all, it was an impressive opening from Saints, who commanded much of the possession and looked sharp going forward, with Ward-Prowse unleashing a fierce drive from 25 yards in the 13th minute that, had it been either side of Pope could well have ended up in the net. However, unfortunately for the Saints skipper, it flew straight at the relieved Clarets keeper.

It seemed if a goal was coming that it would be Saints who would get it, but then, against the run of play, Burnley found the net – only for the goal to be ruled out.

A ball over the top was comfortable for the Saints defence, but the retreating Stephens slipped on the sodden Turf Moor surface, allowing Barnes to steal in and square for Chris Wood to turn home.

The offside flag had already gone up by this stage, though, for an infringement when the ball was played, before the first VAR check of Saints’ season confirmed the decision to rule it out was correct.

Regardless, it prompted a much better spell from the hosts, who began to apply pressure of their own, with Gudmondsson’s low, left-footed shot from 25 yards skidding inches wide of Angus Gunn’s post.

There was another nervy moment for Saints on the half-hour mark, when VAR called for a red card check against Adams, following a tackle on Burnley captain Ben Mee.

Although the Saints striker caught him a little high up the shin, it was deemed not to be serious enough to warrant a dismissal, with Adams also escaping a yellow card.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10: Nathan Redmond of Southampton shoots at goal during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Southampton FC at Turf Moor on August 10, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Nathan Redmond sends in a strike that is brilliantly saved (Photo: Matt Watson)

If Hasenhüttl’s men had been going through a trickier spell in the game, they snapped out of it on 43 minutes, as Romeu played a clever ball down the left for Redmond, who gathered near the corner flag, before driving back outwards and past Gudmundsson, then sending in an angled shot for the far top corner, which Pope brilliantly tipped over.

It meant the sides went into the break goalless, despite an entertaining opening 45 minutes.

Like they had in the first half, Saints started well in the second too, earning a good opening when James Tarkowski tripped Redmond just outside the area, after Ward-Prowse had won the ball off ex-Saints midfielder Jack Cork deep in Burnley territory to spark a counter. With the free-kick well-positioned for a left-footer, Bertrand took responsibility, whipping a shot just above the far top corner.

As it so often seems to be between the two sides, it was an evenly-balanced game, but it swung Burnley’s way on 63 minutes.

Erik Pieters hoisted a big up and under out from the defence, with Vestergaard misjudging the high ball, perhaps in part due to the wind, allowing Barnes to get in behind, take a quick touch and fire a low shot past Gunn from the edge of the box.

Hasenhüttl responded immediately by making his first change, as Michael Obafemi replaced Ings, but he barely had time to get involved before Burnley doubled the lead.

20190810 Burnley v Southampton
Saints were hit by a second-half barrage from Burnley (Photo: Matt Watson)

Again it was Pieters and Barnes who linked up for it, although this time intentionally, as the former swung in a beautiful cross from the left to find the Clarets strike, who side-footed low past Gunn.

Hasenhüttl then withdrew Stephens and Adams and replaced them with Højbjerg and Sofiane Boufal.

It failed to stem the tide, though, as Burnley grabbed their third of the game on 75 minutes.

It was Gudmundsson this time, who broke in down the inside-right and curled a wonderful shot just inside the far post, completing a remarkable 12-minute spell from the hosts.

Vestergaard went close to pulling one back in the closing stages, only to see his scrambled effort from close range turned away, as Saints now turn their attention to the visit of Liverpool next weekend for their home opener.


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Nick Pope (GK)
Erik Pieters
James Tarkowski
Ben Mee (C)
Matthew Lowton
Dwight McNeil
replace Aaron Lennon (84′)
Jack Cork
Ashley Westwood
Johann Gudmundsson goal
Chris Wood
Ashley Barnes goal goal
replace Jay Rodriguez (84′)
Kevin Long
Ben Gibson
Phil Bardsley
Jay Rodriguez
Joe Hart
Aaron Lennon
Jeff Hendrick


Angus Gunn (GK)
Jack Stephens
replace Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (73′)
Jannik Vestergaard
Jan Bednarek
Ryan Bertrand
Oriol Romeu
Yan Valery
James Ward-Prowse (C)
Danny Ings
replace Michael Obafemi (66′)
Che Adams
replace Sofiane Boufal (73′)
Nathan Redmond
Alex McCarthy
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Moussa Djenepo
Cédric Soares
Sofiane Boufal
Maya Yoshida
Michael Obafemi
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