Sadio Mané inspires Southampton to victory over Vitesse on European return

• Southampton 3-0 Vitesse
• Pellè 36, Tadic 45 pen, Long 84

Southampton had waited 12 years for this. During their darker days in League One when they were faced by the threat of liquidation, a return to the European stage could hardly have been imagined. How they enjoyed it and a Sadio Mané-inspired victory has moved them closer to the group phase of the Europa League.

They must negotiate the return tie in Arnhem and then a two-leg play-off but this was precisely the sort of stirring, high-energy occasion Ronald Koeman and the club’s support had wanted.

Southampton’s last win in Europe was in 1981 against Limerick but the result looked safe from the moment Mané released Graziano Pellè with a beautiful ball for the opening goal. Dusan Tadic scored the second with a penalty and the substitute Shane Long added a late third, allowing Koeman to celebrate a win over the club where he cut his management teeth.

The only blot on the match was the hamstring injury that forced off Jordy Clasie in the second-half on his full debut. Koeman said the full extent of the damage would be revealed by a scan. “It’s possible he could miss the first weekend of the Premier League season,” the manager said. “We have to wait. It’s a dangerous injury.”

Southampton’s previous European adventure had been short and not particularly sweet – a defeat over two legs by Steaua Bucharest in the Uefa Cup first round in 2003-04 – and it was lost on no one here that this had the makings of another difficult draw. Vitesse were arguably the toughest opponents that Southampton could have been handed, although this was, as usual, a different Vitesse team to the previous season.

Injuries and the usual glut of sales had undermined the manager, Peter Bosz, and he was left to lament the timing of Tadic’s penalty, just before half-time, and an error from Lewis Baker, one of the latest influx of Chelsea loanees, which led to Long’s breakaway third.

It might have been the end of July but there was an intensity to the tie, with Mané, in a roving central role off Pellè, the lone striker, looking lively from the outset. Koeman had one word for Mané’s performance. “Outstanding,” he said.

Vitesse flickered early on but Southampton came to hold the upper hand. They deserved the breakthrough and what a goal it was, Mané taking a pass from Tadic and carving apart the Vitesse defence with a weighted through-ball for Pellè. The Italian thumped his finish high into the net. Maya Yoshida and the excellent Victor Wanyama had threatened earlier and the second goal followed more quicksilver work by Mané, who escaped on the byeline before being body checked by Rochdi Achenteh. Tadic never looked like missing the penalty.

Vitesse, who also included Izzy Brown and Danilo Pantic from Chelsea, were stronger in the second-half, as Southampton sought to protect what they had but when their big chance came on 71 minutes, for another substitute, Milot Rashica, he had his shot blocked by Maarten Stekelenburg.