Stalemate as Southampton and Burnley fail to find the net

Sean Dyche’s side passed up a number of good chances in opening Premier League game

Ben Mee of Burnley gets past Charlie Austin of Southampton during the Premier League clash. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ben Mee of Burnley gets past Charlie Austin of Southampton during the Premier League clash. Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

Southampton 0 Burnley 0

Not quite the match suggested by the scoreline, this was an intriguing encounter that Burnley should have won, not least after a powerful first-half performance.

With only three new signings starting the match on both sides, this had a look of a game left over from last season and the performances only confirmed this sense. European qualifiers Burnley took immediate charge of the game and should have scored at both ends of the first half. Relegation escapees Southampton looked disjointed and, at points, insipid but a brave second-half change by Mark Hughes steadied thing in the latter part of the match.

Burnley reacted to the opening whistle like a greyhound catching sight of a lure. They raced away, putting Southampton on the back foot from the off and they had a goal disallowed after seven minutes. Jack Cork was adjudged offside when he curled the ball home after a Johann Berg Gudmundsson free-kick. Four minutes later and Alex McCarthy was off his line brilliantly to deny Aaron Lennon, free in the box after a simple ball over the top disrupted Saints’ three-man backline.

It was an unexpected sight, Sean Dyche’s team dominating possession in the opening half hour, the hosts reduced to creating chances on the counter.

Saints did force Joe Hart into a save in the 18th minute, with the former England goalkeeper tipping a powerful Mario Lemina header over the bar. But that was Southampton’s only chance of note in the opening 45 minutes, while Burnley might have scored twice more just in the final minute of the half, Chris Wood seeing a close range effort turned behind by McCarthy, and the ball having to be scrambled clear again from the resulting corner.

The Clarets are currently enduring the Thursday-Sunday cycle necessitated by Europa League football and, having played away in Istanbul midweek, you would not have banked on the visitors starting the second half the same way they did the first, but there it duly was. With Southampton apparently still unable to rouse themselves, Burnley crafted another golden chance in the 49th minute; Lennon serving up a sizzling cross from the right-hand side which Danish defender Jannik Vestergaard misread. Wood, alone and with a gaping goal in front of him, failed to make any contact from just six yards out.

Something needed to change for the Saints and Mark Hughes acted quickly, making a double substitution on 55 minutes. With the addition of new signings Danny Ings and Mohamed Elyounoussi, the formation switched to a 4-4-2 and suddenly Southampton were asking questions of their guests. Both subs made an impact but Ings in particular looked sharp, finding space even in a typically congested Burnley 18-yard box. In the 72nd minute the on loan Liverpool man drifted out of the area and chipped a great ball to the back post but Hart got down to block a shot from Jack Stephens.

For the final period of the match Sean Dyche chose to match Southampton up; Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes taking their turn to lead the line. Neither substitute showed any alacrity in getting on to the field and the suspicion that Dyche was by then happy to leave St Mary’s with a point was confirmed as the game ebbed away to a stalemate. – Guardian

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