FC Midtjylland 1-0 Southampton (2-1 agg): Early Europa League exit for Saints
Last Updated: 28/08/15 7:27am
Southampton crashed out of the Europa League on Thursday after a lacklustre performance against Danish champions FC Midtjylland.
The scores were level at 1-1 after the first leg at St Mary's last week, but Ronald Koeman's side still arrived in Denmark knowing they would need a goal to progress.
But, on a wet night in Herning, it was the Danish side who came out victorious after a single goal from former Celtic striker Morten Rasmussen.
Nicknamed 'Duncan' during his early years with AGF Aarhus as he reminded a coach of former Everton forward Duncan Ferguson, Rasmussen even wears the moniker on the back of his shirt, and he netted midway through the first half to decide the tie.
After passing up several chances to open the scoring and chalk up a crucial away goal, Jay Rodriguez was guilty of a sloppy pass on the edge of his own penalty area that led to Rasmussen slotting home the decider.
The England striker knocked a loose pass into the path of Kristian Bach Bak, who himself managed to slip the ball through to Rassmussen, the latter tucking away his first chance of the night with aplomb.
Earlier in the match, Saints had nearly taken the lead inside the opening four minutes as captain Jose Fonte threw himself at James Ward-Prowse's corner only to see his goalbound header cleared off the line by Jakob Poulsen.
The visitors were in behind again moments later with Rodriguez opting to pass rather than shoot, leading to a Ward-Prowse effort cannoning away off the covering defender.
With heavy rain setting in, Southampton should have been in-front at the midway point of the first-half as Davis turned in the box before shooting low at Midtjylland goalkeeper Johan Dahlin, who pushed the effort away and into the path of the offside Rodriguez.
And it was Rasmussen who showed Saints how to finish, latching onto a pass to help the home side take the lead just minutes later.
Pione Sisto could have made things worse for the Premier League side but he lacked the composure to beat Maarten Stekelenburg inside the box.
Rodriguez, looking to atone for the role he played in Southampton falling behind, rose well to meet Cuco Martina's cross but his header was too close to Dahlin to level.
After the break,Rasmussen was left kicking himself as he could only head Jesper Lauridsen's free-kick wide of Stekelenburg's post despite poor marking by the Saints' backline.
With Southampton pushing men forward in search of an equaliser, Midtjylland were starting to find more space on the counter-attack and referee Liran Liany had a big decision to make when Matt Targett brought down the marauding Rilwan Hassan - with a yellow card shown to the young full-back.
Daniel Royer should have sewn up the tie with 10 minutes remaining but his rising effort from the edge of the area flew inches over Stekelenburg's crossbar but it did not prove costly as a strong rearguard held off late Southampton pressure to end their brief European adventure.