Southampton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion: Stalemate at St. Mary’s (video)

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Southampton and West Brom played out a dour 0-0 at a sunny St. Mary’s on Saturday.

The closest either team came to a goal was a bending free kick from James Ward-Prowse as the Saints midfielder clipped the post in the second half. West Brom’s new signing Brown Ideye headed into the side-netting and was thwarted by Fraser Forster following a lovely bit of skill, as both teams struggled to carve out clear cut opportunities.

[MORE: Watch the full match replay ]

With the draw Saints picked up their first point of the Ronald Koeman era, while the Baggies drew their second-straight match as both teams flattered to deceive on the South Coast in a closely fought encounter.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

Saints were lively early on as Tadic ran at the Baggies defense and clipped a perfect cross that Graziano Pelle headed tamely wide. West Brom sat back and tried to soak up the pressure, then hit the home side on the break.

The Baggies went in the 14th minute as Graham Dorrans shot was well blocked by Saints defense but the away side began to rack up the chances. Pelle then put in a late challenge on Sebastien Pocognoli but referee Roger East waved away the incident despite a lengthy spell of treatment for the West Brom left back.

source: Getty Images
Saints and Baggies battled it out in the sun at St. Mary’s.

A nifty move down the left flank saw Tadic and Ryan Bertrand link up nicely and the latter found Pelle in the box but the big Italian striker saw his effort blocked by Jonas Olsson. Moments later Baggies ‘keeper Ben Foster was let off the hook as he came rushing off his line and Tadic beat him to the ball. The Serbian then whipped in a cross which just evaded Pelle as an empty net beckoned. Saints continued to build the pressure and a blocked clearance fell to Steven Davis who headed the ball towards Tadic but his left-footed shot was saved well by Foster.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

At half time Shane Long replaced Steven Davis as the Irish international came on to face his former club. Less than 10 minutes into the second half the Baggies brought on club record signing Ideye for his debut as the Nigerian striker replaced Victor Anichebe. The forward was soon picked out at the back post after a looping cross from Pocognoli but he headed the ball into the side-netting with Saints under pressure. That turned out to be Pocognoli’s last action of the match as he was injured in the act and was replaced by Australian international Jason Davidson.

Southampton continued to push as the game closed out and in the 70th minute James Ward-Prowse rattled a superb free kick off the post as he curled the ball beautifully open and over the wall but saw his effort hit the woodwork. West Brom then almost went ahead as Ideye tricked his way past Saints’ defender but Fraser Forster came up with a superb save with his leg to keep the game scoreless.

Late on Saints tried to push for the winner but West Brom held firm to thwart the home side as the game ended goalless.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Ward-Prowse (Cork, 78′), S. Davis (Long, 45′), Tadić, Pellè.

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Wisdom, Dawson, Olsson, Pocognoli (Davidson, 60′), Mulumbu, Gardner, Berahino (Sessegnon, 89′), Dorrans, Brunt, Anichebe (Ideye, 52′)

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls
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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.