A useful workout against the Spanish Primera División outfit saw Saints come through a competitive 90 minutes where they were more than a match for their opponents, though they will be disappointed not to have found the back of the net in a game that always looked like it would be settled by the odd goal.
In the first half, the visiting side were the more dangerous in attack with Jay Rodriguez, Gastón Ramírez and Rickie Lambert all going close, whilst centre-back Dejan Lovren twice headed wide from corners.
Amongst the plethora of second-half changes, Guly went close on a further couple of occasions, first up with a low strike which flashed wide, before he then had a header dink the crossbar as Saints continued to have the better of the opportunities.
With an overall winner required, the match was decided on penalties, where Luis Enrique’s side was victorious 4-1 from the spot. Steven Davis was the only Saints man to net from 12 yards, as both Guly and James Ward-Prowse failed to convert the first two efforts.
A small trophy was awarded to the team for finishing as runners-up, but it was the performance and not the silverware that will be the lasting memory from the contest heading into the new season.
Ahead of kick-off, there was a show of appreciation for former Celta Vigo player, manager and director Joaquin Fernandez Santomé – known as Quinocho – which was accompanied by a musical number before the first blast on the whistle was sounded.
With both teams each a fortnight away from their first competitive domestic matches, there was a high tempo to this game from the start as hosts Vigo got the contest underway.
Saints, lining up in their new black and white away strip for the first time, were keen to keep possession where possible as they familiarised themselves with the wide playing surface at the Estadio de Balaídos.
It was the home side, however, that got the earliest sights of goal. An incredible 30-yard strike from Vigo defender Andreu Fontas smacked the crossbar on its way out of play.
That was the first of two warning signs from Os Celticos as Nolito, who had earlier been thwarted by Luke Shaw’s fine interception from a quickly taken free-kick, saw a low shot saved by Kelvin Davis soon afterwards.
At the other end, Saints began to get into their stride with Adam Lallana getting away down the left on a couple of occasions – the latter of which after Ramírez had intelligently picked him out – but neither cross from the winger could be converted past the Vigo defence.
On the quarter-hour mark, Rodriguez followed up with a fierce rising shot which blazed over from the right hand side.
The hosts were forced into an early substitution on 16 minutes when Rafinha went off with a knock, with the Brazilian on loan from Barcelona replaced by Fabian Orellana.
The best opportunity of the half up until then came in the 22nd minute when Rodriguez got on the end of a through-ball to bear down on goal one-v-one with Vigo ‘keeper Yoel, but the striker scuffed his effort wide when it looked easier to put the ball on target.
Soon after, Lovren flashed a header wide from Ramirez’s out-swinging delivery from a free-kick on the left, with the visitors now asserting their dominance on the game.
On the half hour, Calum Chambers’s well-measured delivery from a cross on the right picked out Lambert at the far post, but the frontman’s header flew wide on the left side.
Vigo briefly came back into it, with Fontas forcing a corner for the hosts, but it was Mauricio Pochettino’s men who remained the more dangerous in attack, with Lambert seeing a strong shot from the edge of the area held by Yoel before the striker turned provider for Ramirez to have a header from 12 yards out deflected wide.
Inside the last five minutes of the half, Lovren headed narrowly wide again from a corner, but it was the hosts who had the last chance of the opening 45 when Toni’s left wing cross was headed into the ground and wide by Augusto Fernandez.
HALF TIME: CELTA VIGO 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
There were a host of changes for Saints at the interval with only Shaw and Chambers staying out for the start of the second 45 minutes. Artur Boruc, José Fonte, Guly, Jos Hooiveld, Steven Davis, Jack Cork, Jason Puncheon, James Ward-Prowse and Emmanuel Mayuka all entered the action for the other nine players who started.
Vigo switched goalkeepers, with Sergio Alvarez replacing Yoel between the posts for the second period.
Saints soon re-established their rhythm with Guly and Puncheon flanking Mayuka, who was making a lively impression in the early minutes of the new half as he looked to get on the end of the visitors’ creative openings.
On 56 minutes, Vigo had their best moment of the contest when Toni again managed to find a quality delivery on a cross from the left flank and this time Augusto Fernandez caught it sweetly with a volley, but it was straight down the throat of Boruc, who held the effort well under pressure.
The Spaniards made a glut of changes in personnel just before the hour mark, with Hugo Mallo the only survivor of the backline, with substitutions made across the side.
A sweeping free-kick sent into the area by Guly almost picked out Mayuka shortly after those changes, but the Zambian was flagged for offside as he continued to fight hard for opportunities inside the area.
Chambers made another vital block on the right flank to deny a break for the hosts with 20 minutes remaining, which came prior to Vigo making another change as Mallo was replaced by Jony Castro at left-back for Os Celticos.
It became a more congested affair through midfield as the action entered the final quarter of an hour, with still no breakthrough goal in sight as the prospect of a penalty shoot-out loomed large.
On 80, Guly got into the area on the left and cut inside to fire a shot narrowly wide of the far post in the clearest chance of the half for the visitors, which gave an indication as to how much the flow of the game had been disrupted by substitutions.
Shaw was withdrawn for the final 10 minutes, but appeared fine as he came off the pitch to be replaced by Danny Fox despite having sustained a knock in a challenge with Castro a couple of minutes earlier.
Fox blocked Madina’s goalbound effort from the left with four minutes remaining, but Saints ended the 90 strongly.
Midfielder Davis saw a late drilled shot inside the box pushed out for a corner, and the resulting set piece taken by Ward-Prowse was headed onto the crossbar by Guly as Vigo survived two late scares to take the match to penalties.
FULL-TIME: CELTA VIGO 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Celta Vigo 1-0 Saints, David Rodriguez
Celta Vigo 1-0 Saints, Guly (missed)
Celta Vigo 2-0 Saints, Orellana
Celta Vigo 2-0 Saints, Ward-Prowse (saved)
Celta Vigo 3-0 Saints, Lopez
Celta Vigo 3-1 Saints, Steven Davis
Celta Vigo 4-1 Saints, Goldar
CELTA VIGO 4-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Celta Vigo team: Yoel (Sergio Álvarez 46), Hugo Mallo (Jony Castro 71), Gustavo Cabral (Jonathan Vila 59), Andreu Fontas (Andrés Tuñez 59), Toni (Carlos Bellvis 59), Borja Oubiña (Álex López 59), Rafinha (Fabián Orellana 16), Augusto Fernández (Lévy Madinda 59), Michael Krohn-Dehli (David Rodriguez 59), Charles Dias (Borja Fernández 59), Nolito (David Goldar 59).
Southampton team: Kelvin Davis (Artur Boruc 46), Calum Chambers, Dejan Lovren (José Fonte 46), Maya Yoshida (Jos Hooiveld 46), Luke Shaw (Danny Fox 81), Victor Wanyama (Jack Cork 46), Morgan Schneiderlin (Steven Davis 46), Gastón Ramírez (James Ward-Prowse 46), Adam Lallana (c) (Guly do Prado 46), Jay Rodriguez (Jason Puncheon 46), Rickie Lambert (Emmanuel Mayuka 46). Unused substitutes: Paulo Gazzaniga (GK), Lloyd Isgrove.