Southampton boss Claude Puel rued what could have been after a series of missed chances cost his side following a 1-0 Europa League defeat at the hands of 10-man Inter Milan.
The visitors dominated for long periods at San Siro, with Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin, James Ward-Prowse, Cuco Martina and Virgil van Dijk all going close to scoring.
Inter, in contrast, created very little, but Antonio Candreva’s fine 67th-minute goal ultimately proved enough to condemn the Premier League side to their first defeat in Group K.
The hosts also managed to successfully negotiate the final 13 minutes with 10 men after Marcelo Brozovic collected a second yellow card, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic pulling off a string of fine saves to preserve Inter’s lead.
“It is very hard to lose this game because we have had control of the game the whole time,” said Puel. “I think we are unlucky because we played a very good game with quality and had many, many, chances and it is a big disappointment.
“My players gave a good performance, but now we need to recover and think about the Premier League. For the moment, though, it is hard and disappointing for this club.”
Puel’s sentiments were echoed by club skipper Van Dijk, who drew a stunning save from Handanovic late in the game having latched on to a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.
“It is very tough,” he said. “We were the team that deserved it most. You can see the goal was their only chance and it is frustrating. We should have buried the game in the first half. There was only one team who deserved to win, but in the end that is football.
“I am a winner. I want to win and when you see things not go well it was frustrating. I had a big chance and was unlucky and as well with the header, but we should have finished the game in the first half. We had so many opportunities to win the game, but now we need to move on, recover well and be ready for Manchester City [on Sunday].”