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Southampton make winning start to Europa League Campaign with 3-0 win over Vitesse Arnhem

A comfortable victory sees Saints go into the second leg with some room for error.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Southampton made a triumphant return to European football after 12 years in the shade with a commanding 3-0 win over Dutch opponents Vitesse Arnhem in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie. <!-- ######## START FLOATED VIDEO SNIPPET ######## -->

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It was 2003 when Saints last made their foray in European competition, losing to Romanian giants Steaua Bucharest in the first round of the UEFA Cup.

But, this time around Southampton made a great start with Italian Graziano Pelle opening the scoring after Sadio Mane's deft through ball sent the target man through on goal before blasting the ball home in the roof of the net.

Ronald Koeman's side's lead was then doubled after Mane, again a menace down the Saints wing, was fouled in the box - earning his side an all-important penalty which was promptly dispatched by Serbian international Dusan Tadic on the stroke of half time.

A dominant first half for the Saints was met with a second half of caution as Vitesse hunted a vital away goal to take back with them to the Gelredome.

Southampton's Dutch foes almost made a breakthrough if it wasn't for a vital Maarten Stekelenburg save from a low Milot Rashica shot after he sprung the Southampton offside trap.

But, Vitesse's pressure amounted to nothing in the end as a mistake from Chelsea loanee Lewis Baker sent Saints striker Shane Long through on goal.

Chasing down the ball for a one-on-one with the Vitesse goalkeeper, Long's touch left a lot to be desired as the over-hit ball seemed to see Saints' chance for a third fade.

But, the ball squirmed loose to new boy Juanmi, who elegantly rounded the despairing 'keeper and delicately chipped the ball to Long who promptly nodded the ball home to make it 3-0 to Southampton on 84 minutes.

This was Southampton's first win in European competition since they beat Irish side Limerick 3-0 away from home in 1981's UEFA Cup first round.