Saints chase fa­mous win at San Siro, Van Per­sie re­turns

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Southamp­ton goal­keeper Fraser Forster is look­ing for the Premier League club to make “a mas­sive state­ment” by beat­ing Ital­ian giants In­ter Milan in the Europa League to­day.

The Saints travel to the San Siro-and as many as seven thou­sand of their fans are ex­pected to fol­low them-know­ing a win at the home of the three-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons would be a big step to­wards pro­gress­ing to the knock­out phase from Group K.

It would also be an­other mem­o­rable re­sult for a club who were in the third tier of English foot­ball just five years ago. “If we go and do that (win) it will be a mas­sive state­ment. You look where the club was just a few years ago and even in the time since I’ve joined the club-you meet the owner and you meet the chair­man, and when we came to the club that’s what they said, that they wanted to move the club for­ward and get into Europe, and ev­ery sum­mer they’ve backed us,” goal­keeper Forster told the club’s web­site. “They’ve bought play­ers, and step by step we’re achiev­ing those goals and hope­fully we can do our­selves proud in the game, and if we can come out of it with three points that will be a mas­sive achieve­ment.”

Southamp­ton, who are fresh from beat­ing Burn­ley 3-1 in the Premier League at the week­end, have so far beaten Sparta Prague 3-0 and drawn 0-0 away in Is­rael to Hapoel Beer-Sheva. In con­trast, In­ter are strug­gling. Frank de Boer was only ap­pointed in the sum­mer but the Dutch­man’s side have lost two out of two in the Europa League and are in the bot­tom half of the Serie A ta­ble af­ter a 2-1 home de­feat to Cagliari at the week­end.

Mean­while, star striker and cap­tain Mauro Icardi’s fu­ture at the club is in the air af­ter In­ter sup­port­ers re­acted fu­ri­ously to com­ments he made about them in a re­cently-pub­lished au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

DUN­DALK ‘ON THEIR KNEES’

It is all a far cry from the days un­der Jose Mour­inho when In­ter won the Cham­pi­ons League in 2010. Mour­inho’s cur­rent side Manch­ester United en­ter­tain Fener­bahce in Group A at Old Traf­ford.

United have four points from two games be­fore a re­match with the Turk­ish giants, with whom they have a bit of his­tory.

Fener­bahce in­flicted a first ever Euro­pean home de­feat on United back in 1996, while eight years later Wayne Rooney hit a hat-trick against the same team on his Euro­pean de­but.

The Is­tan­bul side are not in good form as they travel to Eng­land with for­mer United striker Robin van Per­sie, now 33, in their bag­gage.

In Dublin, Ir­ish sur­prise pack­age Dun­dalk must try to shake off fa­tigue as they host 2008 UEFA Cup win­ners Zenit St Peters­burg.

Af­ter fall­ing just short of reach­ing the Cham­pi­ons League group stage, Dun­dalk have drawn away to AZ Alk­maar and beaten Mac­cabi Tel Aviv in Group D to stay in touch with lead­ers Zenit. But as they close in on an­other Ir­ish league ti­tle, boss Stephen Kenny ad­mits the num­ber of games they have faced is be­gin­ning to take its toll. “Hope­fully we can be en­er­gised by the crowd. I think it will be a full house and we will need that be­cause on Sun­day we have an op­por­tu­nity to win the league against Bo­hemi­ans,” Kenny told RTE.

“It is great to be in­volved in these games but the play­ers are on their knees. They are ex­hausted.” In other ac­tion French league lead­ers Nice are look­ing for their first win in Group I when they visit Salzburg but will be miss­ing star striker Mario Balotelli in Aus­tria due to an ad­duc­tor prob­lem. — AFP

MILAN: Southamp­ton’s Dutch de­fender Vir­gil Van Dijk takes part in train­ing ses­sion at the San Siro Sta­dium in Milan yes­ter­day, on the eve of the UEFA Europa League foot­ball match against In­ter Milan. — AFP

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