Clarke hails perfect performance as West Brom benefit from red card frenzy

The Scot praised his attacking trio of strikers, all of whom got on the scoresheet against Southampton, while Mauricio Pochettino rued a bad day at the office for his side
Steve Clarke has praised his West Brom players for their efficient display in the 3-0 win over Southampton on Saturday, while insisting the referee was right to send three players off.

Despite the Saints enjoying spells of dominance with the ball they failed to create any real chances of note, while goals from Marc-Antoine Fortune, Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long saw the clinical visitors claim all three points at St Mary's.

And the Baggies manager lauded his side for their ruthlessness, insisting they not only played good football but worked hard to keep the clean sheet in an "almost perfect" performance.

"How many teams have come here and played like that and won this season? It's a difficult place to come," he told reporters.

"They're a good team, they've good players. We came down here and put on almost a perfect away performance and I think we deserve credit for that.

"My front three were excellent today, not just offensively where they caused Southampton all kinds of problems but defensively as well. They did their job for the team, everybody was chasing back at the right time."

There were three red cards in a fiery second half and the Baggies' 49-year-old boss insisted all three incidents merited a red, though had some sympathy for Fortune.

"I feel a little bit sorry for [Fortune]," he continued. "It was a push and he caught the boy in the face so by the rules of the game it's a red card. We have to live with that. The three red cards were all red cards. The referee refereed the game well - no complaints with me."

The win leaves the Hawthorns outfit on 48 points and ends a run of four matches without victory, but the Scot is not settling for eighth position as he urges his side to push on up the table and rediscover their early-season "Champions League" form.

He added: "We've got the record amount of wins for a West Brom season, we've got one more point than last season which will be the record points. And we've still got four games left to get as many more as we can.

"I'm happy but I'm not complacent because I want more points. Everybody keeps saying if the season was based on the second half we'd be in the bottom three, don't forget before Christmas we were Champions League, that's how good we were and we deserve credit for that.

"We've still got a chance of catching Liverpool and finishing seventh if results go our way. We can aim for that, I don't think you can ever relax and say 'yeah, we're the best of the rest'."

Mauricio Pochettino, however, was coy on whether he thought his side deserved two red cards but did let his players know that their performance was not good enough.

"Today we suffered a lot with long balls from the beginning," the Argentine said. "We were just not comfortable at all. We had trouble with Lukaku and their attacking players. We were lacking fluidity, we were lacking movement.

"I'm disappointed because we gave an account of ourselves that has nothing to do with who we are as a team. I want to think that we just had a really bad day at the office. For the three months I've been here [it was our worst display]."