Yoshida delighted after getting one over fellow countryman

Southampton's Japanese centre-back is enjoying life after winning national team bragging rights for the international break.

Yoshida delighted after getting one over fellow countryman
Nagatomo watches helplessly as he deflects the ball into his own net, gifting Yoshida and Southampton the three points. Photo: Getty.

Southampton's Maya Yoshida has expressed his sympathy towards his Japanese international team-mate Yuto Nagatomo, after the latter's own goal was the difference in the Saints' memorable 2-1 win over Nagatomo's Inter Milan last night in the Europa League at St Mary's.

Despite this, Yoshida's concerns for the left-back will surely be short lived, as he celebrates a momentous night for his club, in which he played a key role. The 28-year-old, like the entire Southampton squad, has been forced to cope with the unfamiliar demands of European football this season. However, he is relishing every minute of it. 

A mixed night for the Japanese

It wasn't quite a must win game for either side, but both Inter and Southampton knew that defeat would leave them playing catch-up in their Europa League group with just a couple of matches to come. 

Yoshida had played almost exclusively in the Europa League for the Saints so far this campaign, and he once again was on manager Claude Puel's team sheet, for the visit of Inter partnering with captain for the night Virgil Van Dijk at centre-back.

Likewise, Nagatomo has had a limited role this season domestically, but has featured regularly on the continental stage, and he also started, at left-back for the visitors, meaning that the Japanese international team-mates would face off in this crucial clash.  

As it turned out, their performances could not have been more contrasting. While Yoshida was solid, reliable and assured in possession, Nagatomo never looked comfortable. He struggled to cope with Southampton's constant pressure with and without the ball, before capping off a forgettable night by scoring the winner for the opposition, as his ugly attempt at a clearance diverted a fizzing Dusan Tadic cross into his own net.

Yoshida will resist all temptation to wind up Nagatomo on upcoming international duty. Photo: Getty.
Yoshida will resist all temptation to wind up Nagatomo on upcoming international duty. Photo: Getty.

Yoshida not one to gloat

With Yoshida and Nagatomo due to meet up again, this time on the same side, with Japan for international duty, the Southampton man will have every opportunity to remind his colleague about his horror show on the South Coast.

However, Yoshida insists that he will be sportsmanlike, stating that he will simply say "bad luck!" to Nagatomo. He diplomatically acknowledged that "it can happen to anyone" and that "you have to accept it". While Yoshida will undoubtedly feel sorry for his friend, he will be immensely relieved that it didn't happen to him.

A fantastic achievement

Focusing on his own team, Yoshida ensures that the defeat of Champions League winners of just six years ago was extremely special. He described the result as "amazing", before going as far as saying that the atmosphere inside St Mary's last night was "one of the best". 

The man from the Far East however, is already focusing on the tests that lie ahead. According to Yoshida, Southampton's group is "really tough", and their upcoming trip to Sparta Prague will be "really difficult". Nevertheless, after one of the biggest wins in their history, Southampton players, staff and fans alike will all be looking forward to the next challenge.