Football

Southampton suffer at the hands of Schalke

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Saints' new signing - Dejan Lovren - in action vs Schalke. (©GettyImages)
Saints' new signing - Dejan Lovren - in action vs Schalke. (©GettyImages).

Southampton slumped to a 2-0 defeat against German side Schalke 04 in a pre-season friendly in Austria.

Despite a promising opening 45 minutes, the Saints eventually succumbed to defeat following some defensive frailties that haunted the south coast outfit for much of last season. 

The Premier League side had the better of a competitive first half, with new signing Victor Wanyama looking impressive alongside midfield compatriots Jason Puncheon and Lloyd Isgrove. The Kenyan demonstrated his physical strength on numerous occasions.

Southampton applied pressure in the early stages, but chances for Jay Rodriguez and Isgrove were snuffed out. Youngster Calum Chambers fizzed a brilliant cross into the path of Rickie Lambert, who could only head straight at Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand. 

Academy graduate Isgrove showed a quick turn of pace to race away from his man before lashing a shot wide of the near post. Puncheon was next to test the 'keeper from range, with a 20-yard pile-driver. Once again, Hildebrand coped with little fuss.

Michel Bastos burrowed his way in behind the Southampton defence, but was denied by the onrushing Kelvin Davis, who was alert to the danger. Bastos' second chance of the game quickly followed, as he saw his half-volley saved by Davis.

As the sides moved towards the break, there was a brief moment of panic for the Southampton coaching staff when new signing Dejan Lovren landed awkwardly after rising for a header. Fortunately, the Croatian defender was able to continue.

Half-time saw numerous changes for both sides, as they looked to mix it up and experiment with their squads ahead of the new season.

Substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar tested Davis in the Southampton goal, but the Saints stopper was equal to the Dutchman's header. 

Huntelaar would not have to wait long however, as he broke the deadlock after capitalising on some comical defending from the Southampton comedy double-act of Jose Fonte and Davis just before the hour mark.

Last season's top scorer Lambert was presented with a golden chance to level the scores, but could only side foot over from close range.

Mauricio Pochettino opted for another six changes, replacing Davis, Chambers, Wanyama, Lambert, Rodriguez and Luke Shaw with Paulo Gazzaniga, Nathaniel Clyne, Danny Fox, Morgan Schneiderlin, Emmanuel Mayuka and James Ward-Prowse.

Shortly after, some defensive hesitancy allowed Joel Matip to slam in a volley from close range, beating Gazzaniga at the near post.

Southampton pushed forward once again, with Clyne lifting a ball for Adam Lallana to attempt to control before going for a bicycle kick. The ball struck the hand of the Schalke defender, but the handball went unnoticed by the officials.

The Saints continued to fade out of the game, as Neustadter lashed a vicious shot just over Gazzaniga's crossbar. Half chances for Huntelaar and Clemens followed.

Southampton had one last chance, but Mayuka's half-volley deflected wide and the resulting corner came to nothing.

The first-half performance may have been cause for much enthusiasm from Saints boss Pochettino, but the second-half will only leave question marks to brew in the Argentinian's mind.

Southampton now have just three games remaining before the start of the season. They face Besiktas in Austria on Saturday, before travelling to face Celta Vigo in their penultimate pre-season fixture.

The Saints round off pre-season with a St. Mary's tie against Champions League outfit Real Sociedad on August 10.

 

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Topics:
Premier League
Southampton
Football
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