Southampton’s faltering start to pre-season continued as they finished bottom in a four-team tournament at the Red Bull Arena in Salzburg on Saturday.
The Premier League outfit were joined by Valencia, Red Bull Salzburg and eventual winners Werder Bremen for the Audi Quattro Cup, which saw the teams play 45-minute semi-finals before contesting a final and third-place play-off of the same length.
Southampton had kicked off their preparations for the 2015-16 season with a 5-4 defeat at RB Leipzig on Wednesday and came unstuck again when they took on manager Ronald Koeman’s former club Valencia in their Austrian opener.
With Werder already assured of their place in the final following a thumping 4-0 win over the hosts, Koeman handed Cuco Martina a first Southampton start.
And the English side should have been in front when former Salzburg man Sadio Mane headed against the crossbar after 22 minutes, only for Jose Fonte to nod over via the woodwork from the rebound.
Valencia seized the advantage a minute later thanks to Pablo Piatti’s low drive – harsh on goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga, who had made an excellent save in the build-up.
Southampton could not find an answer to Valencia’s breakthrough, but things were to get worse as a vastly modified XI battled Salzburg for third place.
Havard Nielsen reacted quickest to head in following a Maarten Stekelenburg parry after 20 minutes, and Dimitri Oberlin capped a well-worked move to make sure of a 2-0 victory four minutes later, to the delight of the home crowd.
Werder and Valencia subsequently contested an entertaining final that saw Felix Kroos bizarrely sent off for two displays of dissent in a matter of seconds, but it was the Germans who went on to clinch the victory on penalties after the match finished goalless.
Neither side gave an inch in the opening exchanges of the sudden-death shootout, but Felix Wiedwald got down well to his right to keep out Salva Ruiz and secure a 3-2 win.
Sat 11 July, 2015