Under-23s see International Cup journey end

By SFC Media Wed 10 Apr Saints v Dinamo Zagreb
Photo by James Bridle | Jake Vokins
Wed 10 Apr 7.45PM
Premier League International Cup
Southampton
1
Dinamo Zagreb
3
Harry Hamblin [22']
Leon Sipos [10'] Marko Gjira [54'] Petar Cuic [82']
Will Smallbone [40'] Will Ferry [90+4']
Josip Šutalo [81']
Harry Hamblin [36']
Referee: Josh Smith | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 3,605

Southampton Under-23s saw their brilliant run in the Premier League International Cup come to an end at the semi-final stage, as they were beaten 3-1 in an enthralling clash with Dinamo Zagreb II, at St Mary’s.

There had been a real air of anticipation ahead of the game, as Saints’ youngsters hoped to set up a tantalising showdown with Bayern Munich in the final and keep alive their dreams of winning the competition at the first attempt.

However, despite being more than a match for their Croatian opponents in front of a crowd of 3,605 supporters, they were edged out after having to play the majority of the game with ten men.

The pivotal moment arrived towards the end of the first half, as midfielder Harry Hamblin – who had not long equalised with a wonderful header – saw red for a challenge in midfield, at a time when the hosts had been on top.

The decision swung the game back in favour of the visitors, who were able to take advantage of the extra man with two strikes in the second half.

From the first moment it had looked like the game would be a thrilling encounter, starting at a tremendous pace, as both sides went close to scoring inside the first few minutes.

It was Zagreb who were nearly in front within 60 seconds, as captain Jakov Gogić swung in a cross from the left, with target man Leon Sipos rising to meet the delivery, but his powerful header was somehow turned wide by Harry Lewis, who sprung to his right to produce a sensational tip round the post.

Saints' Will Ferry is brought down (Photo: James Bridle)

Up the other end, Will Ferry’s free-kick from deep wasn’t dealt with by Zagreb keeper Dinko Horkas, who could only push the ball into the path of Tyreke Johnson on the edge of the area, with his shot being cleared off the line by Gogić, before Nathan Tella then saw his rebound flash inches wide.

Given the opening to the game, it was little surprise that the first goal of the night was only round the corner.

It was the visitors who grabbed it, as Antonio Marin got to the byline and sent in a cutback that found Sipos, who produced a deft touch with his left foot to send the ball spinning across Lewis and just inside the far post.

A further blow was to follow for Radhi Jaïdi’s side, who lost Tella in the 17th minute, after he had an awkward landing following an aerial challenge with Bartol Franić in midfield, with Alex Jankewitz coming on in his place.

Those setbacks did nothing to deter Saints, though, as they drew level on 22 minutes.

It was Will Smallbone who created it, with an exquisite cross from the left for which Hamblin needed no further invitation, as the midfielder timed his run to perfection and powered a header past Horkas.

With confidence surging through them, Saints’ youngsters went close to completing a quick-fire turnaround, as Ferry saw a shot from 20 yards deflect just past the top corner following smart link-up play with Johnson, before Ferry’s low drive on 28 minutes was pushed away by Horkas.

But things then took a turn for the worse on 36 minutes, as Saints were reduced to ten men.

It was goalscorer Hamblin who saw red, as he challenged opposite number Marko Gjira in midfield, appearing to slip slightly as he slid in and catching the Zagreb player a little high.

Tyreke Johnson challenges for the ball (Photo: James Bridle)

Understandably, the dismissal blunted Saints’ attacking threat somewhat, but they were still able to navigate their way to half-time without any significant trouble at the other end.

They were undone eight minutes into he second half, though, as Zagreb regained the lead.

It was Gjira who got the goal, as he played a pass into Marin on the edge of the area, continued his run and then pounced on the ball as Saints attempted to force it clear, before slotting a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Jaïdi’s side did not let their heads bow, and, while chances were harder to come by for them, they were not without their threat.

Johnson had been unable to make a clean contact with his header from Ferry’s excellent left-wing cross in the 64th minute, but there was nothing wrong with his left-footed strike from 18 yards shortly afterwards, which Horkas did well to parry clear down to his left.

But, as Saints pressed, there was always the danger Zagreb could exploit some extra space, and they did so in the 82nd minute to finish off the tie, as a slick move ended with Marin playing in substitute Petar Cuic, who finished low past Lewis for the visitors’ third.

The final whistle brought a sense of disappointment and an end to Saints’ first ever journey in the competition. But there is little doubting that Jaïdi’s side end their run richer for the experience.

Southampton

1
Harry Lewis (GK)
2
Dare Olufunwa
3
Jake Vokins
4
Tom O'Connor (C)
5
Aaron O'Driscoll
6
Christoph Klarer
7
Nathan Tella
Alex Jankewitz (17′)
8
Harry Hamblin
9
Will Ferry
10
Will Smallbone
11
Tyreke Johnson
Kameron Ledwidge (75′)
12
Allan Tchaptchet
13
Jack Rose
14
Kameron Ledwidge
15
Alex Jankewitz
16
Kornelius Hansen
17
Caleb Watts
18
Benni Smales-Braithwaite

Dinamo Zagreb

1
Dinko Horkas (GK)
2
Tomislav Barišić
3
Jakov Gogić (C)
Filip Antovski (88′)
4
Bartol Franjić
5
Josko Gvardiol
6
Josip Šutalo
7
Antonio Marin
8
Marko Gjira
Petar Cuic (75′)
9
Leon Sipos
10
Tom Alen Tolić
Kim Gyuhyeong (90′)
11
Mario Cuze
12
Lovro Jurić
13
Tin Hrvoj
14
Filip Antovski
15
Petar Cuic
16
Ilija Bagarić
17
Kim Gyuhyeong
18
Roko Baturina
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