2015/16 UEFA Europa League, Third Qualifying Round
  • Graziano Pellé (4')
  • Sadio Mané (89')
2nd Leg - Southampton advance 5-0 on aggregate
2nd Leg - Southampton advance 5-0 on aggregate

Southampton defeat Vitesse Arnhem to reach Europa League playoff round

Ronald Koeman's return to Vitesse Arnhem was a painful one, but at least the Southampton manager can take some comfort in his side's safe passage to the Europa League playoffs.

Few expected Saints to come a cropper in Holland after winning last week's first leg 3-0, yet the Dutchman still named a strong side such was his desire to overcome the club with whom he began his managerial career.

That approach paid off as Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane struck to secure a 2-0 triumph, giving Koeman something to smile about after rupturing his Achilles on the eve of the third qualifying round tie.

The Dutchman looks likely to stay in his homeland to have an operation before Sunday's Premier League opener at Newcastle, making him an injury doubt for the trip to St James' Park.

It will be interesting to see how Saints fare in the north east after the trip to Arnhem, where progression was all but wrapped up by Pelle's classy, fourth-minute strike.

Vitesse threatened to net on a number of occasions but Koeman's men held firm and Mane scored late in a match which witnessed Jay Rodriguez's return to competitive football after 16 months out with a serious knee injury.

It was a positive end the day after unsavoury clashes between fans beforehand, with police storming in after glasses, chairs and punches were thrown in the city centre.

Tempers appeared to have settled by the time play got under way -- a match in which things could scarcely have started better for the visitors.

Dusan Tadic's whipped cross found James Ward-Prowse, with Pelle taking the ball and turning before sending a low, left-footed strike past Eloy Room.

It was the ideal start from Saints in warm, testing conditions against spirited Vitesse, whose fans were frustrated when Milot Rashica lost marker Steven Caulker at a corner only to shoot into the ground and over.

Maikel van der Werff saw a hopeful, long-range strike tipped over by Maarten Stekelenburg, who was again in the way to thwart Valeri Qazaishvili.

Rashica proved a handful and claimed a penalty off Cuco Martina, but Saints were looking comfortable and only Room's intervention denied Mane after a clever flick before Pelle bundled wide.

Kazaishvili saw a low effort saved after a subdued start to the second half and Maya Yoshida produced a fine block to deny Rashica as Vitesse tried to claw one back either side of a low Steven Davis cross which just evaded Ward-Prowse.

There was an exhibition feel about the second-half, making this a sensible time to bring Rodriguez on for his first competitive appearance in 16 months.

Welcomed by a standing ovation from Saints fans, he came close to repaying them with a stinging 30-yard drive shortly before Denys Oliynyk almost latched onto a low cross from close range.

There was to be a late goal but it would be Southampton's as Mane robbed Chelsea loanee Danilo Pantic and ran on goal, with his low shot beating Room.

Victor Wanyama forced a late save but there was not to be another 3-0 win for Saints.