Football

Delighted Koeman warns against complacency

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Southampton could not have wished for more on their return to European football, but Ronald Koeman will not let complacency slip in against Vitesse Arnhem.

It has been 12 topsy-turvy years since Saints last appeared on the continental stage - a period in which the club dropped down to League One and the brink of extinction.

Now, though, things are on the up at St Mary's, with last season's best-ever Premier League campaign resulting in European football returning to the south coast.

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Koeman's former club Vitesse stood in Saints' way in the Europa League third qualifying round, but were comfortably overcome 3-0 thanks to Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long goals.

It sets the Saints up nicely for the return leg in Arnhem next week but manager Koeman is guarding against complacency.

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"It's never over in football, but of course the final result is a very good one," he said. "In European football, to win the first game at home 3-0 is a great result.

"It is a very good feeling. I think we had a great atmosphere in the stadium, the fans were looking forward to the game tonight and maybe was one of the reasons we had a difficult start in the first 10-15 minutes.

"After that we controlled the game - good first goal, good moving, good passing, great finish of Pelle.

"The second, the penalty, made it easier for the second half.

"I wasn't happy about the second half because we defended and played too much not to lose a goal and we were lucky about the chances of Vitesse."

Fortunately for Koeman's men it did not cost them, meaning the only real negative was a knock to recent signing Jordy Clasie.

"Clasie did well," Koeman said of the debutant. "He had a good help of (Victor) Wanyama, who was outstanding and that makes it more easy for Clasie.

"Pity he had some hamstring problems and we have to wait to know what happened."

Clasie will be assessed on Friday and appears a doubt for the second leg in Arnhem - a match for which Koeman is not tempted to rest key men.

The game could also witness the long-awaited return of Jay Rodriguez after nigh on 16 months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.

"In a short time we have different games and Jay is still not in the shape to play every three days," Koeman said.

"He will start this Sunday (in the friendly against Espanyol) because he needs that, but tonight and Sunday is still too much and we have to think about that.

"It's possible (he could play in the second leg) because he's doing well, he's not really like before but that's normal because a long time out of competitive football.

"He needs time and he gets that time and Sunday he will start against Espanyol."

Thursday's return to Europa League action is the main goal, though, and Vitesse counterpart Peter Bosz knows they face an uphill battle, especially as he did not think the Saints were at their best in the first leg.

"Still a game to play next week," he said. "It's football, stranger things have happened.

"Usually it's not possible but why not? I don't believe Southampton was that strong today.

"I saw them in Holland and they played better. I don't know if it's something to do with our team but why not?

"I always like to look at my own team and I believe we have the quality to score and to win games and we must do everything we can to do it."

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Topics:
Southampton
Europa League
Football

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