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Rodriguez stunner earns Southampton draw as Caulker makes debut

SoccerNews in La Liga 2 Aug 2015

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Jay Rodriguez’s excellent long-range strike earned Southampton a 1-1 draw against Espanyol in Sunday’s friendly as Steven Caulker made his first appearance for Ronald Koeman’s men.

England centre-back Caulker joined Southampton on a season-long loan from QPR earlier this week and was handed his first start at the St Mary’s Stadium.

It appeared as though his bow would end in defeat after Salva Sevilla put the Liga side ahead in the first half, but Rodriguez – playing his first senior match on home soil since March 2014 following a lengthy injury lay-off – let fly from 25 yards to rescue a draw in the 85th minute.

Ronald Koeman’s side will now prepare for a trip to Vitesse for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie, which they lead 3-0.

Espanyol took the lead in the 11th minute when a cross from the left was deflected to Sevilla on the right of the penalty area and he drilled his shot low past Kelvin Davis.

Southampton had chances to draw level before the break, with Shane Long forcing Pau Lopez into a smart save at his near post and Caulker heading straight at the goalkeeper when unmarked from a James Ward-Prowse corner.

The home side continued to look lively, but the equaliser did not arrive until five minutes before the end. Southampton won possession back in midfield and the ball was played to Rodriguez, who struck a fierce effort into the top right-hand corner. 

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