Cape Town - An
injury to top scorer Charlie Austin compounded a miserable Thursday
night for Southampton as they were eliminated from the Europa League
after drawing 1-1 with Hapoel Be'er Sheva.
The Saints required only a goalless draw or a win to secure their
progression to the knock-out stages of the competition, but they
ultimately conceded in the 78th minute when Maor Buzaglo broke through
the St Mary's defence, before a late Virgil van Dijk goal.
And the result was only made worse with Austin forced off during the
tie with a shoulder injury - a problem that the 27-year-old has suffered
throughout his career.
"He has an injury with his shoulder, and I don't know how long he
will stay out, but for the moment he is injured," said manager Claude
"It's a big disappointment tonight. It was a difficult game against a
good opponent, who were always dangerous when they recovered the ball,
but we had chances during the game.
"Just one mistake, one shot at the end we lost the ball and it's a
goal. It's very hard to accept this situation, and very hard of course
for my players. It's a big disappointment for all the squad and the fans
"Tonight, all the words are difficult, but this is football.
"It's a big disappointment, because we gave it our all. It's very
hard to be eliminated, but now it's important to have a good reaction
from all the team."
Austin who is the club's leading scorer with nine goals is set to miss the English Premiership fixture against Middlesbrough at St Mary's Stadium on Sunday.
Kick off is at 16:15.