A first half strike from Marc-Antoine Fortune set the visitors on their way to a first ever win at St Mary’s, but the game will be remembered more for a bizarre second half which counted three red cards and two further strikes from Albion.
Steve Clarke’s men doubled their lead on 67 minutes when the impressive Romelu Lukaku showed composure to set Albion on their way to what looked like a routine success.
However, minutes later, Saints’ half-time substitute Gaston Ramirez saw red in a challenge on Shane Long, and the aftermath saw Baggies’ first scorer Fortune follow the Uruguayan down the tunnel.
Shane Long capped a good personal display with a well-taken third for the visitors in the 77th minute, but the drama wasn’t over there as Danny Fox was also dismissed for a slide on Steven Reid inside the final ten minutes as the Baggies went on to celebrate a league double of wins over Saints.
Saints: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld, Fox, Schneiderlin, Cork (Ramírez 46), S. Davis, Rodriguez, Lallana (Mayuka 69), Lambert (Fonte 86). Subs (not used): K. Davis, Forren, Guly, Puncheon.
West Brom: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Yacob, Dorrans, Fortune, Morrison (Jones 78), Lukaku (Tamas 86), Long (Rosenberg 88). Subs (not used): Myhill, Thomas, Odemwingie, Daniels.
Referee: Robert Madley
Attendance: 31,946 (including 3,195 away)
Luke Shaw missed out with an ankle injury so Vegard Forren replaced him in the squad and was named amongst the substitutes. Forren was joined on the bench by the returning Guly, who took the place of James Ward-Prowse.
Saints got the match underway with Steven Davis and Morgan Schneiderlin taking kick-off as the hosts attacked the Northam stand on a bright afternoon inside St Mary’s.
Inside the opening minute of action, Adam Lallana got the better of Albion’s Liam Ridgewell down the right flank before sending in a teasing cross which ‘keeper Ben Foster had to leap on so that Schneiderlin couldn’t convert from close range.
The Baggies won a corner in the fourth minute, but Graham Dorrans’s delivery was punched clear by Artur Boruc as the hosts resisted the aerial presence of West Brom’s attacking options.
However, moments later after Boruc had saved well from Romelu Lukaku, the visitors scored from their second corner of the afternoon on 6 minutes.
The cross was headed down by Lukaku and turned in by Marc-Antoine FORTUNE with an effort that squirmed under Boruc, whilst Nathaniel Clyne’s’s best efforts to clear the ball from the line were in vain.
Saints responded well with Rodriguez flashing a shot wide, before Schneidelrin’s fierce goalbound effort was blocked by Jonas Olsson as the home side showed plenty of endeavour and spirit to get their way back into the game.
The visitors were seemingly content to weather the storm as Saints continued to press down either flank, and another sweeping move across the pitch led to Lambert crossing for Rodriguez, but this time a header from the latter, landed on the roof of Foster’s net.
Albion did though suddenly perk up in the 19th minute when a series of flicks through midfield resulted in Lukaku finding himself one on one with Boruc again, but once more the ‘keeper was equal to the on loan striker’s effort.
The action soon switched up the other end, with Lallana winning the first of two more corners for Pochettino’s side, with the latter taken by Fox and met by Hooiveld, but play was called back for a foul in the build-up.
Jos Hooiveld became the first man to go into the referee’s notebook for a tug on Fortune, and Albion should have made more of the resulting free-kick. It was swung in by Dorrans towards the far post, and Olsson’s lift back across goal, Lukaku was inches away from nodding the ball home form a yard out.
Danny Fox swung two further deliveries into the Baggies’ area, with the former seeing a header come back off the crossbar, as Saints continued to cause the visitors problems.
The hosts went the closest they had come to levelling when Clyne drove into the area to get on the end of a cross to force a smart reflex save from Foster, who in truth probably knew little about the strike.
In the next attack, Claudio Yacob pulled back Rodriguez, with the Baggies man booked. The resulting set-piece from Lambert whistled just past the right post as Foster watched on.
Shane Long hit a wayward strike over the crossbar as Steve Clarke’s men briefly showed some attacking intent, but inside the final five minutes of the half Saints pushed on again. Fox and Lallana combined well on the left, but Rodriguez couldn’t adjust himself quickly enough to complete his volley on the turn.
As two minutes of time were added on for stoppages, the Baggies could have cemented their lead when a nod down fell into the path of Lukaku, but for the third time in the half, Boruc was well placed to deny Albion’s top scorer as Saints remained firmly in the contest.
Half Time: Saints 0-1 West Brom
Pochettino made a change at the break with Gaston Ramírez replacing Jack Cork for the second 45 minutes.
Saints pushed forward from the whistle with Rodriguez testing Foster early on with a curling effort, whilst the approach play remained at a high tempo despite a persistent spell of rain now falling onto the surface.
Substitute Ramírez looked to try and force the issue early on, attempting a rising shot from distance, but the Uruguayan’s effort was never troubling Foster, as the ball sailed into the Chapel stand.
Fox became the second Saint to see yellow after pulling back Lukaku as the striker broke down the right.
At the other end, Steven Davis picked out Clyne inside the area, and the full back struck an incredible shot with the angle very much against him, with his effort dinking the crossbar before rolling harmlessly out of play.
The energy from Clyne set up another couple of attacks from the hosts, who went close to breaking through when Ramirez picked Rodriguez out inside the box, but the flag was raised against the frontman as he tried to lay the ball into Lambert’s path.
But having been unable to penetrate the Baggies backline, the visitors doubled their lead after a swift break that owed much to Fortune’s clever through-ball. LUKAKU greatly received the pass and kept his composure to see off the last defender before round Boruc to tap home for 2-0 on 67 minutes.
Saints introduced Emmanuel Mayuka for skipper Lallana with just over 20 minutes remaining, but a flashpoint occurred soon after when Ramirez was tugged back by Shane Long. Ramirez appeared to shrug of the striker’s challenge with his arm which referee Robert Madley deemed appropriate to send-off the half-time substitute. In the aftermath, Fortune followed Ramirez down the tunnel after he appeared to strike Ramirez in the face.
Once the action resumed, Mayuka made a lively impact as Saints kept the pressure on the visitors in the final third, but still couldn’t find a way through.
Then, on 77 the Baggies made their win safe when Yoshida couldn’t quite get the better of Lukaku, who muscled his way through to play in Shane LONG who finished low under Boruc to seal an away success.
Steve Clarke immediately withdrew James Morrison and replaced him with Billy Jones as Albion tried to see out the final ten minutes or so.
Mayuka earned Saints a free-kick on the corner of the area which Lambert smashed wide as clear chances began to dry up for the hosts.
The task was made impossible in the 83rd minute when Fox looked as though he was harshly sent off for a slide challenge on Reid, which the full back had tried to stop himself from committing, but the official saw it differently.
Rodriguez flashed a shot wide from range before Saints introduced Jose Fonte for Lambert to shore things up late on. Soon after Albion brought on both Gabriel Tamas and Markus Rosenberg for Lukaku and Long as a game of three goals and three red cards drew to a rather less dramatic close.
Three minutes of stoppage time elapsed without further incident, as the Baggies earned a first ever win at St Mary’s.
Full Time: Saints 0-3 West Brom