Early goal enough for Sparta

Sparta Prague secured their place in the Europa League round of 32 after narrowly beating Southampton 1-0 at the Generali Arena on Thursday.

  • Sparta Prague 1 Southampton 0
  • Costa breaks deadlock early on
  • Saints dominate the first half
  • Hosts more threatening after break
  • Iron Sparta hold on to win Group K

Match Summary

Costa Nhamoinesu's early goal settled matters in the Czech capital as Iron Sparta survived wave after wave of attacks from Claude Puel's side in the first half to hold onto their lead at the break.

The Saints battled to get going in the second half, though, with the hosts creating the better chances, but there were no further goals.

Full Report

Sparta made a positive start as they created the first chance of the game after just four minutes, with David Lafata testing Fraser Forster from inside the area on the left.

And they went in front through their next attack on 11 minutes when Costa connected with Borek Dockal's free-kick to volley past Forster at his near post from an acute angle on the left.

But it was one-way traffic after that as the English Premier League club bossed proceedings in a bid to get back into the contest.

Their first opportunity came in the 16th minute with Nathan Redmond playing Sam McQueen in on the left, but the defender fired straight at Tomas Koubek from 12 yards out.

Shane Long was next to threaten three minutes later from James Ward-Prowse's free-kick, with the striker seeing his looping header pushed around the right post by Koubek.

McQueen did well to pick out Jay Rodriguez with a pass from the left in the 24th minute, but the forward's shot was blocked and rebounded to the left-back, who fired wide of the left post.

The final chance of the first half saw Jordy Clasie have a crack from 25 yards out as he was given space to shoot on 44 minutes, but Koubek made a comfortable save.

However, Iron Sparta created more problems after the break with Lukas Marecek scuffing a shot wide of the far post from the edge of the area on the right in the 52nd minute.

Forster was called into action twice in quick succession four minutes later, parrying an 18-yard strike from Vyacheslav Karavev back into the danger area before he pushed Dockal's free-kick away to safety as Lafata just failed to connect with the ball.

The visitors were struggling to impose themselves in the second half as Forster saw a cross from the right land on top of his crossbar, before a well-struck effort from Marecek had the keeper at full stretch but went just past the left post on 65 minutes.

Forster then pulled off a fine save low to his left to deny Dockal from the edge of the area three minutes later as the Saints failed to clear their lines.

The Saints finally threatened on 78 minutes when Long charged towards goal before sending a shot wide of the right post from 20 yards out, while Virgil van Dijk headed over a Ward-Prowse corner from just five yards out moments later.

But David Holoubek's men held on after a much-improved performance in the second stanza to clinch top spot in Group K with one match remaining.

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