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Sparta Prague 1-0 Southampton: Lacklustre Saints beaten by group leaders

Sparta Prague 1-0 Southampton: Lacklustre Saints beaten by group leaders

Southampton's Europa League qualification hangs in the balance after failing to beat Sparta Prague away from home.

Aaron Stokes

Southampton missed the chance to qualify for the next round of the Europa League after falling to a 1-0 defeat at Sparta Prague.

The South Coast effort were poor for the majority of the match and could never get back into the game after Costa Nhamoinesu's goal in the 11th minute. 

Claude Puel's men must now wait until the final group game to secure their passage to the knockout stages.

First half action

It only took Sparta 11 minutes to land the first blow as Borek Dockal lifted the ball into the box from a free kick and Nhamoinesu snuck in behind the defence before beating Fraser Forster at his near post. Southampton's defending was very poor in the build up.

Southampton were starting to put pressure on their opponents but were still struggling to test the opposition's goalkeeper.

The first real chance for the away side came after 25 minutes when Nathan Redmond found Sam McQueen, who pulled a ball back across for Jay Rodriguez. The forward's effort was neatly blocked but the ball dropped back to McQueen, who dragged a shot wide of the near post.

Photo: Matej Divizna/ Getty
Photo: Matej Divizna/ Getty

The away side continued to dominate possession but weren't threatening Sparta's goal. Jordy Clasie tried to hit back from range but his shot was straight at Tomas Koubek.

Saints take a while to get going again

Sparta enjoyed a better spell at the start of the first half. Whilst Southampton were making simple mistakes. 

Karavaev managed to get a shot away from the edge of the box just before the hour mark and the Saints then nearly conceded once again when Lafata was allowed a free header from an inswung free kick. 

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure as they searched for a second goal. Julis' miss-hit cross nearly caught out Forster as the ball clipped the crossbar. 

Photo: Michal
Photo: Michal Cizek

Maricek then tried his luck but his long range effort sailed narrowly wide. Before Dockal tested Forster low to his left.

However, Southampton then seemed to get going again. Charlie Austin came off the bench and Claude Puel's men looked more dangerous. 

Long fired wide from range before squaring a ball across goal moments which Austin failed to get on the end of. Virgil Van Dijk then missed the target from around 12 yards, as his header sailed over.

Southampton failed to make any more clear cut chances and saw almost every attempted cross cleared by a man in Sparta's yellow kit. 

What it means

The win means Sparta are safely through to the knockout stages, whilst Southampton remain second in Group K.

Hapoel Be'er Sheva scored in the dying seconds of their game against Inter Milan to win 3-2, after being two goals down.

Southampton require a 0-0 draw or a win in their final game to qualify for the next round.