And the England worldwide was delighted to get back on the scoresheet after battling back from a career-threatening knee injury.
All the pre-game talk at St Mary’s had been about players staying at the club as, with Manchester United linked with another high-profile poach of Southampton talent with a move for Sadio Mane, manager Ronald Koeman insisted he was not for sale.
Martin Stekelenburg in the Saints’ goal then reacted well to palm away after some head tennis in the penalty area, before Sparv, who was in the same youth side as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott, struck a brilliant sucker punch from 20 yards as the visitors went ahead with the last kick of the first half.
Saints started the second half as if they knew their European adventure tickets were under threat and ran at Midtjylland with more vigour than before.
Graziano Pelle and Southampton were held to a 1-1 draw by Danish champions Midtjylland on Thursday.
There’s plenty of games to get involved with as Bet365 announce that they have live feeds of a number of fixtures throughout Europe tonight, available for punters and fans to watch online through desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet devices.
‘The defensive organisation is the whole team, but the main part, in my philosophy, is the goalkeeper, four defenders and two controlling midfield players’.
The Danish side were always a threat from set plays and they took the lead on the stroke of half-time when former Saints academy player Tim Sparv drilled a low shot home.
Jay Rodriguez has scored his first goal for Southampton since March 2014 (v Newcastle).
“It was a normal goal”, he said.
He added: “I pick the strongest team in the best system to make sure we have a good result”.
Caulker was also surprised to see his header ruled out.
“‘I wanted to bring us back into the game”, he told BT Sport.
Rodriguez said about the crowd’s reaction to his goal: “It was lovely”. After the impressive win over Vitesse, Saints were expected to get through this challenge but Midtjylland will be favourites going into the second leg. Saints, on the other hand, have to create a lot more chances to stand a chance. That’s what you’ve been waiting for since you’ve been out injured.
English teams have, in the past, being accused of not giving the Europa league their full attention however Saints forward, Shane Long wants his side to buck that trend and “make the most” of their opportunity.