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Saints suffered their first defeat of pre-season as they were beaten 1-0 by Bayer Leverkusen at St Mary’s.
After five successive wins for Ronald Koeman leading into the game, the Germans proved just too strong and edged out a victory in Saints’ final warm-up game, courtesy of Graziano Pelle’s own goal early in the second half.
There is still work to do for Koeman and the club over the next week before the Premier League season kicks-off against Liverpool at Anfield.
Celtic keeper Fraser Forester is expected to finally complete his signing in a £10m move, while a centre half and a striker also remain top transfer priorities for the club.
Bayer Leverkusen had the first chance of the game as they pressed forward after just two minutes allowing Hakan Calhanoglu the chance to shoot from the edge of the area but it was deflected just wide.
There was not too much goalmouth action in the opening stages of the game as both teams played some fluent football up until the final third where it all came a little unstuck.
Koeman’s side were playing a fluid formation, that at times appeared to be a 4-1-4-1 with Victor Wanyama sat in front of the back four, but quickly moved to a 4-2-3-1 when Steven Davis dropped back in to help defend.
Saints created their first opening from a set piece on 21 minutes.
Dusan Tadic whipped in an inswinging left footed corner that found its way to Maya Yoshida eight yards out.
He fired low towards goal but was prevented from scoring the opener by the post.
Just a few minutes later Leverkusen launched a quick counter attack that ended with Karim Bellarbi curling a shot from 20 yards just wide of Artur Boruc’s goal.
Saints threatened to break through on 32 minutes as James Ward-Prowse closed in on a high lobbed ball over the top but keeper Bernd Leno was alert to the danger and charged out of his area, just managing to shut out the danger before the midfielder could finish.
The Leverksuen stopper was in business again a minute later, having to back peddle quickly to turn Tadic’s chip over the bar.
That proved to be the last attacking action of the first half which ended, quite fairly, goalless.
Leverkusen made five changes at the break, but Koeman sent out the same side for the second period as he looked to blend his team as a unit.
But it was bad news as on 57 minutes Saints fell behind, conceding an odd own goal.
Calhanoglu mishit a right footed corner and the ball bounced before it had even reached the near post.
Graziano Pelle was on hand to deal with it on the edge of the six yard box but as he sunk down to try and meet it the ball hit him and deflected goalwards, where Boruc was beaten.
Koeman responded by making a double change with Gaston Ramirez and new signing Saphir Taider replacing Ward-Prowse and Lloyd Isgrove.
The pair linked up well after just a few minutes, Ramirez flicking a pass back to Taider whose early shot from 20 yards took a deflection and looped just over the bar.
After another series of five changes form Leverkusen, Ramirez went close himself, cutting in from the right and unleashing a left footed shot that went narrowly over the bar.
Saints made two further substitutions on 77 minutes as Jack Cork and Emmanuel Mayuka came on for Victor Wanyama and Steven Davis, with Taider dropping into a slightly deeper role and Mayuka more advanced.
Saints were lucky not to go further behind on 80 minutes as Julian Brandt breezed past Yoshida and tried to lift a shot towards goal that wasn’t powerful enough to outpace the back tracking Ryan Bertrand who cleared the danger.
Saints managed some late pressure on the Leverkusen area but couldn’t muster an equaliser as they rounded off their pre-season preparations with a first taste of defeat this summer.
SAINTS: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama (Cork 77), S Davis (Mayuka 77), Ward-Prowse (Ramirez 61), Tadic, Isgrove (Taider 61), Pelle.