Saints chase famous win at San Siro, Van Persie returns
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 7000 of their fans are expected to follow them – knowing a win at the home of the threetime European champions would be a big step towards the knockout phase from Group K.
It would also be a landmark victory for a club who were in English football’s third tier just five years ago.
“If we go and [win] it will be a massive statement,” goalkeeper Forster told the club’s website.
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’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 up in the air after Inter supporters reacted furiously to comments he made in a recently published autobiography.
It is all a far cry from the days under Jose Mourinho, when Inter won the Champions League in 2010.
In Dublin, Irish surprise 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 [October 23] 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. – RIYAD Mahrez secured another Champions League victory for Leicester City on October 18 while titans Real Madrid, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund all notched group-stage victories.
Leicester maintained their perfect Group G record in their first foray in Europe’s elite club competition, edging FC Copenhagen 1-0 with Mahrez’s goal.
Islam Slimani headed down a Jamie Vardy cross for Mahrez to score a closerange volley off the outside of his left foot five minutes before half-time.
With Porto winning 2-1 at Club Brugge in the group’s other game, Claudio Ranieri’s side are now a win away to Copenhagen on November 2 from the last-16.
“We’re in a good position now,” said Ranieri.
“We knew it would be tough. Copenhagen tried until the end. It was difficult at the start, but the performance was good.”
In Bruges, Jelle Vossen put the home side in front early but Miguel Layun lashed in the equaliser midway through the second half and Andre Silva scored a stoppage-time winner from the penalty spot.
For Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas, it was a 92nd win in the Champions League, allowing him to surpass Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez for a new record.
Leicester’s Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur found themselves hanging on for just a point after a 0-0 draw away to Bayer Leverkusen in Group E.
A Vincent Janssen header that came back off the bar was the closest Spurs came to scoring in Germany.
The home side piled on the pressure in the second half but Javier Hernandez was denied by a brilliant save on the line by Hugo Lloris and Stefan Kiessling missed another great chance late.
Just three points separate all four teams in the section, but it is Monaco who are on top after a come-from-behind draw 1-1 at CSKA Moscow.
Ivorian striker Lacina Traore, on loan from Monaco, scored against his parent club in the 34th minute for the Muscovites but Bernardo Silva equalised for the visitors.
Reigning tournament champions Real Madrid cruised to a 5-1 home victory over Legia Warsaw in Group F after supporter violence marred the build-up to the game.
Five fans and two police officers were treated for minor injuries following clashes outside the stadium before kick-off.
When the game began, Vadis Odjidja struck the post for the visitors before Gareth Bale fired in the opener and a Marcelo shot went in off Tomasz Jodlowiec.
Zinedine Zidane’s side’s now has seven points, putting them level at the top of the group with Borussia Dortmund, who won 2-1 over Sporting Lisbon.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang burst through for an early opener and a superb Julian Weigl strike made it 2-0 but Dortmund hung on to reduce the deficit to one midway through the second half.
In Group H, Juan Cuadrado came off the bench to score a late winner as a 10-man Juventus beat Lyon 1-0 in France.
Gianluigi Buffon was in fine form for the Italian champions as he saved a first-half Alexandre Lacazette penalty, while Juve had Mario Lemina sent off early in the second period.
But Cuadrado netted the winner 14 minutes from the end as the hosts failed to make their man advantage count.
“I should thank Mario Lemina for his sending-off because I thought we played better with a man less,” said Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri.
The win brings them level with Sevilla, who defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in Croatia, with Samir Nasri netting the only goal. –
Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ exceptional save kept Tottenham Hotspur in for a draw against Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League Group E match on October 18.
Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk (right) heads the ball over Burnley during a Premier League match on October 16. Southampton won, 3-1.