It was an extremely entertaining affair to round off the pre-season schedule at St Mary's, with the goals shared around once more to give plenty of room for optimism ahead of the new campaign.
The hosts led 3-2 at half time with Adam Lallana, Morgan Schnedierlin and Jos Hooiveld all on target, though Artur Boruc will have been disappointed with the efforts he conceded in the opening 45 minutes.
A knock sustained by Luke Shaw at the end of the opening half was, however, a concern heading into the interval.
Haris Seferović restored parity for the visitors in the second 45, but one of Saints’ eleven substitutes, Jason Puncheon, wrapped up the win late on with a close-range finish inside the last ten minutes to end the pre-season schedule with a victory.
Saints got the game underway with Schneiderlin and England striker Rickie Lambert taking the first touches as football returned to a St Mary’s Stadium which was bathed in sunshine for the final match of pre-season.
The home side lined up with an attacking feel to it as Guly do Prado joined the midfield with Lallana in playing behind Jay Rodriguez and newly-called-up England frontman Rickie Lambert.
Three minutes into the contest – and no doubt buoyed by the cheers from the stand of ‘Rickie for England’ – Lambert took aim with an audacious 50-yard swing at goal which floated towards the target, but Sociedad ‘keeper Claudio Bravo watched it all the way as he collected the ball comfortably.
Despite Sociedad’s Seferović’s advance on goal to force a low save from Boruc, it was Saints who remained on top in the opening exchanges, playing some impressive football to boot.
In the sixth minute, Lambert cleverly played in Lallana, but the pass was just intercepted by a cluster of blue and white shirts.
However, less than a minute later, another perfectly weighted pass from Lambert again this time arrived perfectly into the of LALLANA who kept his cool to fire home a thumping volley past Bravo to out the home side deservedly in front early on.
Saints continued to impress in the final third, with Schneiderlin also joining the ranks in attack to try and tee up Lallana once more, as the hosts maintained their early attacking threat.
Rodriguez was next to be denied when Bravo saved low at his feet on 11 minutes, but there were further openings created. A fine run to the byline from Shaw went unrewarded as Alberto de la Bella cleared from inside his own six-yard box, but a second goal almost came from a Lallana corner on 17.
Hooiveld met the delivery but his low effort was cleared from the line, whilst a fiercely struck follow up from Rodriguez struck the crossbar, though the frontman was adjudged to have been in an offside position as the ball came back into play.
The opening 20 minutes or so really belonged to Saints with Victor Wanyama also getting in on the act inside the area, but he couldn’t quite get his shot away as Bravo remained untroubled.
Another fine move came the way of Saints on 26. It started from Schneiderlin winning possession inside his own half and led to a slick break forward that saw Wanyama and Rodriguez take the ball on into the Sociedad half before playing it back to the Frenchman, whose 30 yard strike flew wide.
Despite the flowing rhythm that the hosts had found in attack, Saints were victims of their own downfall for an equaliser which came in the 28th minute of action.
A mix-up in defending a back-heeled cross from the left by Schneiderlin and Shaw led to the ball landing at Gorka ELUSTONDO’s feet, and the midfielder had the simple task of tapping home from inside the six yard box for 1-1.
The scores weren’t level for long, though. Morgan SCHNEIDERLIN restored Saints’ lead with a wonderfully composed finish on 33 minutes. A high ball from Wanyama was latched onto by the Frenchman on the edge of the area and, after taking a touch to bring the ball under control and away from the onrushing ‘keeper, Morgan then calmly slotted it home into the bottom corner for 2-1.
Parity was again restored soon after, though, with Sociedad finding another leveller on 38 minutes. Former Arsenal man Carlos VELA connected to a diagonal cross on the left side of the area and got the wrong side of Calum Chambers to slot the ball under Boruc.
The half was to take another twist before the half-time break as Saints went back in front for a third time on 40 minutes. A scuffed free-kick from Lallana on the right bounced up inside the area, and HOOIVELD reacted quickest to powerfully nod the ball home from eight yards out to make it 3-2.
An unsavoury square-up involving Lambert and Sociedad’s De La Bella put a slight dampener on an otherwise spirited half of football.
Both men were booked for their scuffle, but there was worse news to come for the hosts at the end of the half as Shaw hobbled off with what looked like a knee injury. He was replaced by Danny Fox just before the whistle.
HALF TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 3-2 REAL SOCIEDAD
Mauricio Pochettino made four changes to the team at the interval with Kelvin Davis, Gastón Ramírez, José Fonte and Steven Davis all entering the action in place of Boruc, Lambert, Hooiveld and Guly respectively.
The visitors also made a substitution, with Spanish international Iñigo Martínez replacing Liassine Cadamuro for the second 45.
Although there were plenty of new arrivals onto the pitch, it remained a competitive affair, though Danny Fox’s crunching challenge on Marco Sangalli rightfully earned the full-back a booking as referee Darren Sheldrake was forced to delve into his pocket once more.
Rodriguez then burst forward to good effect on the right to try and force a fourth for Saints but, with the angle against him and no-one to pass to inside the area, the striker’s low shot at the near post was relatively easy for Bravo to deal with.
That preceded a third equaliser for Sociedad which came on 59 minutes. Vela won the ball on halfway and played it through the right side of the area where SEFEROVIĆ collected it before smashing a shot in off a combination of the near post and Kelvin Davis’s knee for 3-3.
Further changes were made on 62 minutes for both teams as Antonie Griezmann replaced Chori Castro for the visitors, whilst Maya Yoshida, Jack Cork and James Ward-Prowse came on in place of Lovren, Chambers and Wanyama for Saints.
A few minutes later, Seferović blazed over from a good position for the visitors, who then introduced some more of their established names as Rubén Pardo and David Zurutuza entered the action in place of Xabi Prieto and Javi Ros for the final 22 minutes or so.
Saints survived a scare on 71 when Cork attempted to nod the ball back to safety only for his header back towards Kelvin Davis to be seized upon by Griezmann, though thankfully the winger’s effort went wide of the left post.
The hosts responded with Schneiderlin teeing up Steven Davis for a rising strike at goal, which Bravo held well.
The final round of changes came with Imanol Agirretxe replacing third goal scorer Seferović in attack for the Spaniards.
Saints followed suit with three further switches as Lloyd Isgrove, Jason Puncheon and Emmanuel Mayuka came on for Schneiderlin, Lallana, and Rodriguez respectively.
Puncheon almost made an immediate impact, though his shot was blocked on the edge of the area. Mayuka then went even closer as he connected to Fox’s dangerous low centre, but a last ditch challenge just beat the Zambian to the ball inside the six yard box.
Bizarrely, Sociedad's Agirretxe was replaced less than four minutes after his introduction to the action with Jon Gaztanaga taking his place.
As play entered the final 10 minutes, Davis saved low from Vela, before Ward-Prowse tested Bravo from range with a well-struck shot that the Chilean goalkeeper held.
In the 83rd minute, Saints made it 4-3. PUNCHEON started and finished a move from the right as his initial shot was saved, but when Isgrove struck a shot from the rebound into the ground the ball arrived invitingly back to the wideman, who pounced on it to slide home number four and bring a sweet end to a busy afternoon of goal scoring.
FULL TIME: SOUTHAMPTON 4-3 REAL SOCIEDAD
Southampton team: Artur Boruc (Kelvin Davis 46), Calum Chambers (Jack Cork 63), Dejan Lovren (Maya Yoshida 63), Jos Hooiveld (José Fonte 46), Luke Shaw (Danny Fox 45+3), Victor Wanyama (James Ward-Prowse 63), Morgan Schneiderlin (Lloyd Isgrove 75), Adam Lallana (c) (Jason Puncheon 75), Guly do Prado (Steven Davis 46), Jay Rodriguez (Emmanuel Mayuka 75), Rickie Lambert (Gastón Ramírez 46). Unused substitutes: Paulo Gazzaniga (GK).
Goals: Lallana (7), Schneiderlin (33), Hooiveld (40), Puncheon (83)
Booking: Lambert (45)
Real Sociedad team: Claudio Bravo, Marco Sangalli, Liassine Cadamuro (Iñigo Martínez 46), Ion Ansotegi, Alberto de la Bella, Javi Ros (Rubén Pardo 67), Chori Castro (Antoine Griezmann 63), Gorka Elustondo, Haris Seferović (Imanol Agirretxe 75 (Jon Gaztanaga 79)), Xabi Prieto (c) (David Zurutuza 67), Carlos Vela. Unused substitutes: Eñaut Zubikarai (GK), José Ángel, Enrique Royo.
Goals: Elustondo (29), Vela (38), Seferović (59)
Booking: De la Bella (45)