West Brom – Southampton was a one-sided clash at the Hawthorns as Sam Allardyce’s side gave their survival hopes a huge boost.
After early VAR controversy ruled out a perfectly good goal from Mbaye Diagne (more on that shortly), a penalty from Matheus Pereira and a Matt Phillips finish put the Baggies in the driving seat and Callum Robinson made it 3-0. James Ward-Prowse had a late penalty kick saved and that summed up a sloppy Southampton display.
This is the first time West Brom have won back-to-back games this season and they’ve given themselves a fighting chance of staying up.
The win puts West Brom on 24 points, as they are eight points from safety with seven games to go. Southampton stay on 36 points.
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Three things we learned
1. West Brom put VAR drama to one side: The big talking point was VAR early on, as West Brom had a goal chalked off for offside but it went to VAR. However, the VAR cameras were reportedly not in a position to draw a line to see if Diagne was offside. That meant the original on-field decision stood, so it was offside, and it looked like a huge blow for the Baggies as a technical hitch cost them a lead. Had this game been tighter, it would have been a massive talking point. In the end the Baggies being brilliant bailed out VAR, but this has a been a wretched week for the technology.
2. Pereira pulls the strings: What a class act he is. Southampton couldn’t handle him in front of their back four and Diagne, Robinson, Phillips and others constantly made runs behind that Pereira found. If they stay up, he will be the reason why, and if they don’t he will be playing in the Premier League next season. Teams will be lining up to sign Pereira.
3. Southampton sloppy ahead of FA Cup semis: This was a very, very poor display from Southampton. They should have been 5-0 down at half time. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side looked disinterested and were clearly thinking about their FA Cup semifinal against Leicester City on Sunday. On this form, not many of this starting lineup will play at Wembley this weekend. Defensively they were all over the place, the midfield was slow and the attack fed off scraps. This was a really, really bad display from Saints.
Man of the Match: Ainsley Maitland-Niles – Dominated the game and set the tone for the Baggies.
West Brom thought they had got off to a perfect start as a quick free kick caused chaos and Mbaye Diagne flicked home, but he was offside according to VAR. However, Sky Sports in the UK reported the technology could not be used properly due to an incorrect camera angle.
Callum Robinson flicked a shot just wide at the near post, while at the other end Kyle Walker-Peters surged into the box but Sam Johnstone saved his tame shot.
Connor Townsend almost finished at the near post after Okay Yukuslu surged into the box as the Baggies dominated. Matt Phillips’ cross almost deflected in, Darnell Furlong flicked wide from a good position and Diagne was denied by a last-ditch Ryan Bertrand tackle.
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Danny Ings chipped a shot just wide after good work from Nathan Redmond as Saints finally woke up. Ings again went close after Redmond led the charge, then Pereira set up Diagne but he got it horribly wrong when clean through as he blazed wide.
Stuart Armstrong then forced Johnstone into a solid stop, and Ings was then denied by Johnstone after a clever corner kick routine. Pereira then won a penalty kick after being brought down by Fraser Forster, and he slammed home the spot kick.
Phillips then tapped home at the back post after a fine ball from Diagne, as West Brom were cruising.
Southampton improved in the second half, massively, but it wasn’t enough as West Brom made it 3-0.
One long ball through the middle caught Southampton out, and Robinson dinked home to seal an emphatic win.
Che Adams and Jannik Vestergaard went close, but Saints were second best as Moussa Djenepo won a late penalty kick which Johnstone saved from Ward-Prowse.