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January 11, 2014
• St. Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Hampshire
Referee: H. Webb
• Attendance: 28610
A. Lallana 66'
West Bromwich Albion
So Pochettino will be a happy man tonight, but what about Pepe Mel, who from now on is officially West Brom's new full-time manager? Well, I don't think he'll be too impressed with what he saw today, it taking until the 90th minute for the Baggies to threaten Southampton's goal. Vydra was bright when he came on late on, but it was an otherwise flat display from the visitors, with some poor marking leading to the Saints winner.
Arguably, though, Saints real match-winner was returning keeper Boruc, whose last-gasp 90th-minute save to SOMEHOW deny Long, from all of two-yards out, made sure the three points stayed safe. The Poland goalie had virtually nothing else to do all game, but pulled the absolutely crucial save out of the bag to stop the Baggies dealing what would have been a cruel, cruel blow. How much has Pochettino missed him, eh?
After a subdued first period, in which the home side dominated but failed to display their creativity, and then another below-par 20 minutes in the second half, a Pochettino substitution paid off with Ramirez coming off the bench to brilliantly assist Lallana's neat 66th minute winner.
It comes to nothing, though, and there goes the full-time whistle as Southampton claim only their second Premier League since win since November 9.
90' + 3'
Brunt delivers to the back post but Boruc tips it behind - corner ...
90' + 2'
Dangerous free-kick for West Brom on the right flank - up comes Foster ...
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
Three minutes have been added on at St Mary's.
WHAT A SAVE!! Boruc makes an incredible save to, surely, keep the three points safe for Saints. Vydra and Ridgewell combine on the left before the latter crosses for Long - he's two yards out and HAS to score, but the Poland keeper SOMEHOW keeps it out with his feet. He's back.
Morrison drags a woeful shot wide of the goal - he had options in the middle there too.
Morrison and Vydra combine dangerously and force a corner off Clyne. West Brom take it quickly and Brunt's cross is good - but it's cleared.
Saints are now looking to just keep hold of the ball, and the victory, as they try and run the clock down. Risky business, though, with the Baggies now pouring forward.
Great defending from Shaw as he beats two West Brom attackers to another dangerous cross from Brunt.
Good ball in from Brunt from the left, but Lovren is well-placed to intercept it and set-up a Saints counter-attack.
Attacking change for West Brom as Gera replaces defender McAuley to give the Baggies a little more going forward.
Clyne tries, and fails, to find a team-mate from the right flank on two occasions in quick succession. Saints need to be careful not to become sloppy in these late stages.
It looks as if Berahino is being readied for the visiting side, with a change imminent.
The energetic Rodriguez breaks through the Baggies defence and wins a corner, but the visitors get the initial ball away before clearing the second one too.
Yellow Card Jonas Olsson
Olsson picks up a yellow card but is, perhaps, fortunate to get away with just that after a nasty, high challenge on goalscorer Lallana.
Reid puts a dangerous ball into the Saints box from the right but Lovren is in the right place at the right time to nod it away from the box.
West Brom, meanwhile, need an instant reaction if they are to get anything from this. Downing is right on the edge of his technical area, barking instructions to his players, but you wonder whether it's time to make a change. The likes of Berahino, Sinclair and Vydra are on the bench.
That goal, and Ramirez's introduction, and really slicked up Southampton's play. Their passing is a bit sharper, as is their movement, and they look like they could go on and get a second.
Assist G. Ramírez
Goal Adam Lallana
GOAL! Lallana puts Southampton 1-0 up! Substitute Ramirez does indeed bring his creative spark to the game as his left-footed, in-swinging ball from the right-hand-side finds the England midfielder just inside the Baggies box, before he calmly slots it past Foster.
It is Ramirez, and it's on target, but it's very tame and Foster catches the ball with ease.
Ramirez wins a free-kick off Anelka in a pretty dangerous area - I think he fancies this one himself as well ...
The attacking-minded Ramirez has come on for Saints midfielder Cork as Pochettino searches for the all-important first goal at St Mary's. The Uruguay international hasn't really adapted to the Premier League quite yet, and is still to show his best down on the south coast, but his creative spark is certainly what they need right now.
Lallana crosses from the left but it's poor and headed away by Olsson, before Schneiderlin fires off-target from long range.
Reid wastes a decent West Brom opening by passing to Brunt - who is clearly in an offside position - after some good play from both Long and Amalfitano.
Yellow Card Shane Long
Saints work the ball to Clyne in a good position on the right flank but his cross hits the first defender. The final delivery from both sides has really been lacking today.
Anelka gets into some good space on the left flank but strays offside - at least the Baggies forward is getting involved this half.
Anelka and Long now combine to good effect for the Baggies, however the Frenchman's final ball over the top towards Amalfitano is overhit and rolls behind for a goal-kick.
Schneiderlin and Davis play a neat one-two on the edge of the Baggies box but the latter's shot is blocked by a defender. The Saints are looking slightly more threatening, now.
CHANCE SAINTS! Morrison gives the ball away with a hospital pass in his own half, allowing Rodriguez to drive at the Baggies defence. The space opens up for the attacker but he fires well off-target. A big waste, that.
Shaw and Davis combine well on the left flank before the former finds Rodriguez with a low cross - the forward's touch is poor though, and the chance goes begging.
Lambert floats a ball in towards Schneiderlin but his header doesn't have enough power on it and is easily collected by Foster.
Saints get us back underway, with both sides unchanged.
West Brom caretaker boss Downing will probably be telling his players to keep doing what they're doing; successfully disrupt the Saints and wait for a chance on the counter. Meanwhile there hasn't really been much for newly-appointed full-time manager Pepe Mel, who is watching the team he is about to inherit from the St Mary's stands, to ponder over just yet - in terms of individual displays - so he may well be hoping a bit more from them after the break.
Southampton did begin to create a few decent openings towards the end of the period, Lambert and Rodriguez both firing off-target when presented with half-chances, whilst Lallana has caused the Baggies a number of issues, but Pochettino is right to look unhappy with his side's rather subdued display.
It's therefore turned into a bit of a midfield battle, with a number of niggling fouls and mistimed tackles breaking up the flow of play. That will probably suit West Brom as the away side, to be honest, and as a team that have set-up content to sit back and try and counter attack.
And Howard Webb blows his whistle, calling time on the first half. It's been an odd game, really, with Southampton dominating the first half-an-hour or so without creating a single chance of note, before West Brom battled their way into the match also without threatening in attack.
45' + 1'
Another decent opening for Saints but Rodriguez can't keep the snap shot down after Clyne's bobbling pass across goal.
Half-chance for Lambert after Davis' chipped ball over the top lands on his left boot - however his powerful volley is both high and wide.
Long breaks in space on the right and looks for Morrison, who also has acres, in the middle in a good counter-attacking chance for the visitors, however his touch isn't great and Saints are able to get back and clear the danger.
Davis looks for Fonte and Lovren at the back post with a high, hanging ball, but the Baggies get it clear.
Lambert wins another free-kick off Reid, a little bit further out, maybe the Saints can make something of this one?
What a waste, again. Lambert fires a free-kick straight into the Baggies wall before hitting a West Brom player with a second attempt. Poor.
Schneiderlin wins the ball back of Mulumbu in a dangerous position but perhaps plays the wrong ball by finding Lallana on the left, who is closed down quickly - I think he had other options inside.
Space opens up for Lambert about 25 yards out from goal so the Southampton forward takes on the shot - it's got power but is straight at Foster.
With both sides becoming a bit frustrated with their lack of chances, a few feisty challenges are starting to creep into the game as Shaw and Amalfitano tangle on Saints' left.
West Brom are just starting to get back into this one in terms of possession, but we're still to yet see a decent chance on goal. Both sides are really lacking final product in the final third.
Brunt whips in a very dangerous ball from the resulting free-kick, but Boruc is able to punch it away before McAuley is caught offside.
Yellow Card Dejan Lovren
Lovren picks up a booking for a rash sliding challenge on Long out on the Baggies right flank. The forward looks in pain.
Reid fires a vicious strike at goal from the set-piece but it's always rising and climbs well over the bar.
Anelka wins a free-kick off Schneiderlin in a decent position…
Saints pour forward with Rodriguez and Schneiderlin but the eventual ball in from Clyne is too high and and floaty, allowing Foster to collect it with ease.
Shaw drives up the left flank and whips in a dangerous cross in front of Foster, but Rodriguez can't get his effort on target with McAuley defending well.
Davis looks for Fonte at the back post but the centre-half can't quite get a full contact on the ball under pressure from that man Mulumbu again.
Schneiderlin wins a free-kick in the Baggies half after Mulumbu fouls him - this is a good chance to deliver the ball ...
Saints have a corner but completely waste it by finding Cork around 30 yards out, who then smashes a poor effort well wide of the goal.
Just over quarter-of-an-hour gone at St Mary's and the home side are quietly dominating proceedings, keeping the ball well and hassling West Brom whenever they lose it. Still no real chances of note for either team, though.
Olsson gives the ball away to Saints midfielder Davis, who then attempts an ambitious long-range effort. It's a harmless shot but Baggies keeper Foster isn't happy with his defender, and rightly so.
Rodriguez looks to sneak in behind a high West Brom line in a Saints counter attack, but the forward strays into an offside position.
Lallana, who is at the centre of everything in these early stages, charges down the right before digging out a cross. The ball falls to Lambert after it's half cleared, but his effort trickles wide of the post.
Lallana finds space once more after receiving the ball from Schneiderlin, he works a shot at goal but it's an easy save for Foster.
Lambert finds himself out on the left but switches play over to Clyne on the right - the full-back crosses towards Lallana but he can't quite direct his header at goal.
Lallana once again nearly gets in behind the Baggies defence but can't quite bring down the high ball from midfield.
West Brom hesitate to clear the ball right on the edge of their own penalty box and nearly allow Lallana to nip in on goal. It's just about hacked away in time, though.
West Brom get us underway!
In the 61 previous meetings between these two sides, each team has secured 21 wins. They'll both feel that they can go and get their 22nd victory this afternoon, I'm sure, so let's hope for an entertaining clash. Here's come the players ...
Whilst the Baggies are about to embark on a new managerial era having appointed Mel on Thursday, next weekend will mark Pochettino's 1-year anniversary in charge of Saints.
Southampton have won just one Premier League match since November 9 - dropping from third place to their current ninth position. West Brom, meanwhile, have picked up six points from four league games since sacking Steve Clarke. They still currently sit in 14th, though.
Now, some match stats ahead of kick-off, which is just under 10 minutes away at St Mary's ...
Saints boss and former Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino - who came up against Mel when he was in charge of Real Betis - has also had his say on the new Baggies appointment via his club's Twitter page: "I know Pepe Mel very well from our time in La Liga. I wish him well - after 5pm today!"
So, going back to Mel's appointment at West Brom, caretaker manager Downing - who will remain at the club and work alongside the Spanish boss - has given his thoughts on the new man to the Baggies official Twitter feed: "I met Pepe for first time last night," he said. "He seems a really decent guy with some good ideas. He's leaving me to get on with [the] game today."
As for West Brom, Downing welcomes Youssouf Mulumbu back into the side following an injury, whilst the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Chris Brunt and Liam Ridgewell all return to the starting line-up after the Baggies FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace. Defender Goran Popov is sidelined with injury whilst attacking threat Berahino is on the bench.
Much-missed goalkeeper Artur Boric makes his comeback from injury for Southampton this afternoon, with both first-choice central defenders Jose Fonte and Dejan Lovren also returning. Further up the pitch, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez are back in the starting line-up, whilst reported West Ham target Rickie Lambert starts with Dani Osvaldo suspended.
West Brom starting XI: Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Amalfitano, Morrison, Mulumbu, Brunt; Anelka, Long. Subs: Myhill (gk), Lugano, Berahino, Sinclair, Vydra, Gera, Yacob.
Southampton starting XI: Boruc; Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw; Cork, Schneiderlin; S. Davis, Lallana, Rodriguez; Lambert. Subs: K. Davis, Yoshida, Ramírez, Ward-Prowse, Guly, Hooiveld, Gallagher.
Before we move on to discuss this one further, let's just bring you the team news with both sides making a number of changes from their respective FA Cup outings …
Hello and welcome to LIVE play-by-play coverage of the Premier League clash between Southampton and West Brom, in what is Baggies caretaker manager Keith Downing's final game in charge of the team before newly-appointed Pepe Mel takes over the full-time post. The Spaniard, who was officially appointed on Thursday evening, will however be watching from the stands at St Mary's this afternoon.
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