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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 23 February, 2019

Long on target as Saints put one foot in the next round, Hammers left frustrated

There were mixed fortunes for the Premier League teams in tonight’s Europa League third round qualifiers.

Long after his goal.
Long after his goal.
Image: Tony Marshall

Southampton 3-0 Vitesse Arnhem

SOUTHAMPTON HAVE ONE foot in the Europa League play-off after a 3-0 win over Vitesse in the first leg of their third-qualifying-round tie.

The visit of manager Ronald Koeman’s former club proved a straightforward challenge for Southampton, who were rarely threatened as they made a winning return to European competition after a 12-year absence.

Graziano Pelle proved a thorn in Vitesse’s side throughout, and he made Southampton the third club for whom he has scored against the Arnhem side when he crashed in the opener after 36 minutes.

The hammer blow for Vitesse arrived just before half time, when Dusan Tadic converted a penalty following a foul on Sadio Mane, and Shane Long all but wrapped up the tie when he headed home in the 84th minute.

Shane Long Vitesse Source: BT Sport

The result gives Koeman’s team a comfortable lead to defend when they head to Arnhem for the second leg, having displayed admirable fitness and composure in their first competitive action of the season

West Ham 2-2 FC Astra Giurgiu

Soccer - Europa League - Third Qualifying Round - First Leg - West Ham United v Astra Giurgiu - Upton Park The West Ham players celebrate with goalscorer Mauro Zarate. Source: Stephen Pond

Meanwhile, West Ham’s Angelo Ogbonna endured a nightmare debut as he scored an own-goal to hand Astra a 2-2 draw.

Slaven Bilic’s men needed penalties to get past Maltese side Birkirkara in the second qualifying round and have plenty of work to do to progress after throwing away a two-goal lead following James Collins’ dismissal.

Enner Valencia and Mauro Zarate had put the hosts in control, but Collins was booked twice in five minutes for fouls on visiting captain Constantin Budescu as West Ham continue to make life hard for themselves in the competition.

For the third time in Europe this season, the Fair Play entrants ended the game with 10 men and were duly punished as Fernando Boldrin rattled in a stunning strike before Ogbonna turned past Adrian eight minutes from time.

It leaves new West Ham boss Bilic – who himself was sent to the stands late on – with plenty to ponder ahead of the Premier League season with the injury-enforced withdrawals of Joey O’Brien and Valencia adding to a frustrating evening at Upton Park.

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