Southampton celebrate fairytale victory over Inter Milan
Saints stage comeback to dominate Italian giants in the Europa League in front of an ecstatic crowd at St Mary's
Southampton 2 Inter Milan 1
Six years ago, Southampton were languishing in League One, while Inter Milan were on course to win Serie A and the Champions League. But times have changed and on Thursday, Saints fans were celebrating a win over the Italian giants in the Europa League.
"The three-time European champions came to St Mary's and spent most of the game with ten men planted behind the ball. Yet despite going behind and missing a penalty, Southampton dominated: taking just five second-half minutes to secure a win that will live long in their collected memories," reports Jonathan Liew of the Daily Telegraph.
"They may be relative novices at this level, but Southampton gave as good as they got. Most of all, they played attractive, ambitious football: a sharp contrast with Inter's instinctive caution, a system as narrow as an army drill squad, assembled above all to soak up pressure."
It was the Italians who took a first-half lead against the run of play through Mauro Icardi and when Southampton missed a penalty, it seemed as if luck was against them.
But Saints refused to be downhearted and they equalised through Virgil van Dijk after 65 minutes, the centre-back firing home after Oriel Romeu struck the bar following a corner.
Five minutes later, Sam McQueen's cross caused mayhem in the Inter box and was deflected into the goal by Yuto Nagatomo at the far post.
At the final whistle, "Southampton fans, wannabe Chinese investors and an ailing Inter Milan side left a raw and rancorous St Mary's with plenty to think about", says Rick Broadbent of The Times.
Saints are close to qualification for the next round of the tournament and "a fervent home crowd of over 30,000 greeted this victory with the sort of elation usually reserved for a trophy-lifting celebration", says Jonathan Jurejko of the BBC.
He adds: "Beating a club of such magnitude - 18-time Italian champions and three-time European champions - represents arguably Southampton's greatest night in continental competition".