Callum Robinson on target as West Brom keep survival bid alive
Sam Allardyce’s side win back-to-back matches for first time this season
Callum Robinson scores West Brom’s third goal during the Premier League game against Southampton at The Hawthorns. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/AFP via Getty Images
West Brom 3 Southampton 0
Not even a new form of VAR imbroglio could prevent West Brom from swaggering to a victory that just about keeps alive their hopes of springing free of relegation.
Sam Allardyce’s side were denied an early breakthrough in confusing circumstances but still played with enough sharpness and skill to blow away feeble visitors thanks to goals by Matheus Pereira, Matt Philips and Callum Robinson. Sam Johnstone saved a penalty from James Ward-Prowse in stoppage time to complete a satisfying day’s work for the hosts.
West Brom have won back-to-back matches for the first time this season; get another four or so victories from their remaining seven matches and they might stage the most amazing of all escapes from the bottom three.
Allardyce had not been coy about declaring this a must-win match and his team started with such vigour and pizzazz that they could have had victory wrapped up within half an hour if not for errant finishing and a fresh kind of VAR controversy.
The visitors might as well have been still unpacking their bags when Pereira surprised them with a quick free-kick that set up Philips, whose shot was batted out to the edge of the area by Fraser Forster. Darnell Furlong sent it back into the danger zone and Mbaye Diagne nodded the ball into the net from six yards.
Referee Simon Hooper disallowed the goal after seeing his assistant’s flag but television replays suggested that Diagne had, in fact, been onside. However, officials at Stockley Park indicated that their view was partly obscured by other players so they could not advise the referee to overturn his decision. “The VAR could not get an angle that conclusively showed whether Diagne’s upper body was onside or offside, so they have stuck with the onfield decision,” explained the Premier League.
West Brom’s players did not protest. Instead they continued stylishly persecuting Southampton, who will certainly be ousted from the FA Cup if they play like this in Sunday’s semi-final against Leicester.
Ireland striker Robinson, given a start on the back of his two goals in the 5-2 win over Chelsea, went close in the eighth minute, flicking a shot wide of the near post after a cross by Conor Townsend.
Soon West Brom cut through the visitors again. Townsend fired wide after a nice exchange with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, then Okay Yokuslu forced another save from Forster. Philips had a shot deflected over the bar before Furlong glanced a header wide from seven yards.
After 20 minutes Southampton began to threaten to make the hosts pay for their wastefulness, but neither Danny Ings nor Stuart Armstrong could find a better finish. Diagne then missed West Brom’s clearest chance so far, shanking wide after dainty service by Pereira.
West Brom did not lose hope. They earned their perfect chance to open the scoring when Pereira beat Forster to a fine ball by Maitland-Niles and was clattered by the goalkeeper. The Brazilian got up to convert the penalty with the simple efficiency that had been lacking, ramming it straight down the middle as Forster dived right.
West Brom doubled their lead three minutes later. Ings, working back inside his own half, gifted the ball to Diagne, who stormed down the left and measured out an impeccable low curling cross that Philips rewarded with an expert finish at the back post.
Southampton never looked like recovering. The hosts made certain of the win when Yokuslu pounced on a loose ball in midfield and threaded it through to Robinson, who raced away from Jannik Vestergaard and planted the ball firmly beyond Forster.
After a foul by Townsend on Mohamed Salisu, Johnstone made a brilliant save from Ward-Prowse’s penalty to preserve his clean sheet. – Guardian