West Brom easily dismantled a poor Southampton side 3-0 at The Hawthorns to retain their slim hopes of avoiding relegation.
Sam Allardyce's rejuvenated team dominated from the first whistle and should have gone in front when Mbaye Diagne's header from close range was erroneously given offside then strangely not overturned by VAR.
Just after the half-hour mark, Mattheus Pereira was brought down by Fraser Forster in the box and got up to drive home the penalty and soon afterwards, Diagne put in a superb cross from the left flank which Matt Phillips turned home at the far post.
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Callum Robinson rounded off the scoring with a fine finish 21 minutes from time before James Ward-Prowse saw his penalty superbly saved by Sam Johnstone in the closing moments to compound a miserable night for the Saints.
The win lifts West Brom within eight points of fourth-bottom Newcastle, with seven games remaining.
TALKING POINT – West Brom are a different proposition now
After the worst possible first 10 games in charge, Allardyce now has West Brom playing like a side worthy of Premier League football. They may have been fortunate with their last two opponents, Chelsea before a Champions League quarter-final and Southampton ahead of an FA Cup semi, but they are now attacking in a manner unrecognizable from most of the season.
While Southampton were poor, in the first half Albion attacked with verve and no little inspiration from Pereira and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, while Matt Phillips had one of his best games in a West Brom shirt. Retrieving an eight-point deficit in seven games is an extremely hard proposition, especially as Newcastle now actually look like picking up points, but Albion look like putting up a fight now at least.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Ashley Maitland-Niles (West Brom)
The on-loan Gunners midfielder took a risk coming to West Brom in order to show he is a player who should play in the middle of the field in the Premier League, but it has worked out. Albion lacked energy in their side, outside of Conor Gallagher, before his arrival and Maitland-Niles has injected this into the starting XI, along with quality and ambition in possession.
Southampton’s midfielders could not match up to him and like a number of young England midfielders has a high football IQ shown with his timing of when to attack or defend and his quality in the final third. His set up for Pereira came from a typical driving run which ultimately broke the deadlock for West Brom when Southampton just looked to be getting into the game.
West Brom: Johnstone 7; Furlong 6, O’Shea 7, Bartley 8, Townsend 7; Yokuslu 8, Phillips 8, Maitland-Niles 9, Pereira 8; Robinson 7, Diagne 7. Subs: Ajayi 6, Robson-Kanu 6, Gallagher 6.
Southampton: Forster 5; Walker-Peters 7, Bednarek 5, Vestergaard 6, Bertrand 6; Diallo 6, Ward-Prowse 6, Armstrong 6; Walcott 5, Ings 5, Redmond 6. Subs: Adams 7, Tella 6, Djenepo 7.
4' VAR CONTROVERSY! Furlong's shot from the edge of the box is headed in by Diagne... but the flag is up for offside. It will be checked. After a wait, the decision stands... millimetres in it. The more replays you look at, the more Diagne seems to be onside. Another VAR howler. Has had a bad weekend, the poor thing.
31' PENALTY! Maitland-Niles squares the ball in the box and Forster comes out with his feet and brings down Pereira.
32' GOAL! West Brom 1-0 Southampton (Pereira): Pereira blasts low down the middle and with Forster diving to his right Albion are one ahead.
35' GOAL! West Brom 2-0 Southampton (Phillips): Southampton give the ball away on their defensive right flank and Diagne plays a superb cross to the back post where Phillips diverts home from a tight angle.
69' GOAL! West Brom 3-0 Southampton (Robinson): Robinson fires home on the break after being played in by Yokuslu, he takes the ball towards his left and then fires into the roof of the net.
90+3' PENALTY! Townsend brings down substitute Djenepo and the Saints have a chance for scant consolation.
90+4'SAVED! Superb stop from Sam Johnstone. You wonder if he saw a few of those in England training. A fine save diving to his left anyhow.
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