SOUTHAMPTON — In their final Group K game, all Southampton needed was a win or a 0-0 draw to advance to the UEFA Europa League knockout stage.
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They got neither as Maor Buzaglo’s goal 12 minutes from time put Be’er Sheva 1-0 up and despite Virgil can Dijk’s stoppage time equalizer Saints were dumped out of Europe as they failed to find the winner they needed.
Claude Puel‘s side were distraught at the final whistle as they had not qualified from Group K on virtue of the total number of away goals scored between the teams in question, with Be’er Sheva going through instead.
The European dream was over for Saints, as Maya Yoshida put a header just wide in the 93rd minute which would’ve sent them through. Instead, the Saints go marching out of Europe.
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Early on Saints won a corner on the left and a looping ball was met by Charlie Austin but his tame header was straight at David Goresh in Be’er Sheva’s goal. Be’er Sheva had a good chance early on as Mihaly Korhut got the better of Josh Sims and drilled a low shot in which Fraser Forster parried away.
Be’er Sheva continued to look the more comfortable and former Portsmouth player Ben Sahar ran at goal and had to be stopped by Cedric Soares before getting his shot away.
Sims had a header saved by Goresh but on the break the Israeli champions always looked dangerous.
At the other end Nathan Redmond forced Goresh into a fine diving save but from the resulting corner Austin headed wide at the back post and is he fell he injured himself. The English striker was in agony in the floor as it looked like he dislocated his shoulder and was replaced.
Be’er Sheva had a good chance at the start of the second half as a bad giveaway in midfield let in Sahar but his effort was blocked by last man Maya Yoshida. At the other end Van Dijk was found from a set piece but his shot was deflected over and then Ryan Bertrand‘s cross was cleared wide by Shir Tzedek as substitute Shane Long was about to tap home.
With the Israeli side taking more risks as the game wore on, Saints continued to get chances on the break with substitute Dusan Tadic having a goalbound shot headed off the line.
As the game wore on the nerves hit Saints hard and Romeu gave the ball away in the 79th minute and Be’er Sheva dealt the hammer blow.
Substitute Yuvai Shavtai played it in to Buzaglo and he struck a low shot in off the far post and in to make it 1-0 and Saints needed two goals to advance. You could hear a pin drop among the home fans at St Mary’s as the Be’er Sheva fans went wild.
Late on Van Dijk scored a deflected effort right at the start of injury time to make it 1-1 and Saints needed just one more goal to advance at Be’er Sheva’s expense. However, their big chance came and went as James Ward-Prowse‘s perfect cross to the back post found Yoshida but the Japanese defender somehow headed inches wide.
Game. Set. Match.
Southampton have a lot of soul searching to do as they rested key players throughout their first-ever foray into the Europa League group stage and paid the price.