Radhi Jaidi saluted his Saints U23s after they had two men sent off but still managed to beat Villarreal 2-1 to reach the Premier League International Cup semi-final.

Strikes from Will Smallbone and skipper Tom O'Connor was enough to see off the Spanish opposition and fire them into the final four.

Jaidi’s team will either play Leicester, Reading, Dinamo Zagreb or Bayern Munich in the next round, but the manager only wanted to focus on last night’s victory at Staplewood.

Jaidi told the Southampton FC website: “A great win. A great performance.

“They showed a huge amount of will to achieve something for themselves and for the club.

“They did it tonight. Credit to their concentration levels at the end. They showed a huge amount of commitment and desire.

“We bounced back excellently from the Reading disappointment last week. And we've relied on some of the younger boys, who have stepped up tonight.”

Smallbone netted a first-half penalty to give the U23s the upper hand heading into the second period.

This second half saw the majority of the drama with two more goals and three red cards.

Villarreal managed to equalise in the 59th minute when Fran Alvarez got the better of Harry Lewis in the Saints net.

Despite the setback, Jaidi’s youngsters continued to stick to their game plan and found themselves level moments later.

Smallbone turned provider, whipping a wicked ball into the box, which was put into the back of the net by O’Conner.

However, the real drama started as the game came to a close, with Saints’ Christian Norton getting sent off for catching Carlos Blanco with an elbow.

And after the referee blew his final whistle, there were two more red cards to come. A melee ensued which resulted in Saints’ Dan N’Lundulu and Villarreal's Blanco being given their marching orders.

Even though two of his players were sent off, Jaidi was quick to praise the spirit of his young team.

He added: “I’m really pleased. I'm really proud of all of the staff around the Under-23s at the moment. It's a really healthy place to be. We've got great relationships with the players and that's reflecting on the pitch.

“Their spirit was massive; tremendous from all of them, including the players that came off the bench.”