Ralph Hasenhüttl reflected on a good test to sign off Southampton’s Premier League preparations, as Saints were narrowly beaten by an experienced Villarreal side at St Mary’s.
Hasenhüttl’s team fell behind in the first half but hit back through a stunning solo strike from summer signing Joe Aribo, who had a header ruled out for offside soon after.
Champions League semi-finalists last season, Villarreal struck again 18 minutes from time through Gerard Moreno to win the game, but the boss was encouraged by Saints’ second-half performance in particular.
“A very good test, I think it was a very good team and we have seen some good moments from us,” he said.
“The two goals we conceded were where we know we have to learn the behaviours of the back five, but I think overall against a good footballing team it was a good test for us.
“I think against a very good deep defending team, to create that many chances was very good to watch, I think we had some good opportunities to score.
“Moussa [Djenepo] had three good chances, the second goal from Joe was slightly offside but the cross was perfect. We’ve learned a few patterns, and this was positive and good to see, and we had in the second half definitely more from the game.”
Hasenhüttl praised Aribo’s wonder goal on his first St Mary’s start, as his thoughts now turn to next week’s season opener at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
“When he is running with the ball he is hard to stop. He was a little bit lucky also, but he always has these situations when the ball is under his feet and he finds good solutions,” he said of Saints’ new No 7.
“We have had some good weeks and now we have the final one where we can use all the things we have seen in the last weeks to adapt and to perform well on the weekend and find the right XI to start next weekend.”