Southampton return to second spot after impressive win at West Brom

By Sports Desk February 16, 2024

Southampton motored back into the Championship’s automatic-promotion spots with an impressive 2-0 win at West Brom.

Ryan Fraser and David Brooks netted as Russell Martin’s side returned to second, a point ahead of Leeds, in the race for an instant return to the Premier League.

Saints dominated for long spells and Baggies boss Carlos Corberan was sent off early for misconduct having kicked the ball while it was still in play.

The hosts were denied a penalty after Jack Stephens’ handball as defeat halted a buoyant atmosphere at The Hawthorns.

Florida-based Shilen Patel is poised to buy a 87.8 percent stake in Albion’s parent company, West Bromwich Albion Group Limited, with the takeover due to be rubber stamped next week.

It will end the unhappy reign of Guochuan Lai and Patel was in the directors’ box to watch the Baggies, who remain fifth, slip to just a third home league defeat of the season.

Saints lost their club record 25-game unbeaten run with Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Bristol City and came out with a point to prove.

Kyle Walker-Peters whistled over before the visitors were given a further boost after seven minutes when Corberan was dismissed.

The head coach went to stop a Sekou Mara clearance he thought had gone out but, with the ball still in play, referee Sam Allison showed the red card.

By then, Southampton were already in the ascendancy and soon after Alex Palmer smothered Adam Armstrong’s shot after his poor initial clearance allowed the striker a chance.

It only delayed the inevitable, though, as Saints opened the scoring after 14 minutes.

Fraser’s shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner the on-loan Newcastle winger struck. Shea Charles played it short to Stuart Armstrong and his deep cross picked out Fraser, with his fine cushioned volley finding the corner.

It gave Southampton the platform to dominate but they failed to extend their lead in the first half, Adam Armstrong shooting wide, which allowed Albion to regain their composure and threaten before the break.

Concerted pressure ended with John Swift driving wide from 25 yards and Albion were furious in stoppage time when Conor Townsend’s effort struck Stephens’ arm in the box, only for Allison to wave away their protests.

Albion tried to use that sense of injustice in the second half but, while they battled on, they struggled to make a serious impact.

Swift’s free-kick dropped over and it was Southampton who wrapped up the points with 17 minutes left.

Impressive substitute Joe Aribo started a sharp move when he found Stuart Armstrong to pop the ball into Sam Edozie. He slipped in Brooks 10 yards out and the Bournemouth loanee spun away to drill past Palmer.

Gavin Bazunu maintained the two-goal lead when he turned over Okay Yokuslu’s free header as the Baggies looked for an instant reply but there was no way back.

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