West Brom play out dull draw with Southampton
Published 12/09/2015 | 17:24
Saido Berahino returned for West Brom but failed to inspire the Baggies during a dire goalless draw with Southampton.
The forward was given a mixed reception as a second-half substitute following his strike threat on transfer deadline day.
His introduction briefly lit up a dour game as the Baggies slugged out a forgettable 0-0 draw with the Saints at The Hawthorns.
However, Berahino found some Albion fans were unforgiving after he tried to force through a move to Tottenham on transfer deadline day.
Like his team-mates, Berahino struggled to create while Jay Rodriguez wasted the visitors' best chance in the first half.
Virgil van Dijk was dominant on his debut for Southampton while Jonny Evans was assured on his Baggies bow following his arrival from Manchester United.
Rickie Lambert, Chris Brunt and Callum McManaman returned for the hosts while Rodriguez and Victor Wanyama started for the Saints.
And defences were on top from the start as the sides settled into a mundane rhythm which rarely looked like changing.
Boaz Myhill, now under pressure from Anders Lindegaard who was named on the Albion bench after joining from Manchester United, claimed Graziano Pelle's early effort.
McManaman was the brightest spark in a pedestrian opening and wanted a penalty when he went down under Matt Targett's challenge but his appeals went unrewarded.
It was a rare flashpoint during the first period, which lacked quality and tension as Salomon Rondon and Lambert, against his former club, laboured for Albion.
Craig Dawson headed over but Saints goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg remained untroubled as ex-Celtic defender Van Dijk kept a lid on Albion's stilted attacks.
But Rodriguez should have broken the monotony nine minutes before the break when he wriggled ahead of Dawson and planted a six-yard header wide from Dusan Tadic's fine cross.
It was the best chance of a limp first half and Southampton emerged for the second with renewed purpose as Tadic threatened.
Myhill claimed Rodriguez's deflected effort before Berahino returned for Lambert, who failed to make any impact, on 55 minutes just after Rondon shot over when well placed.
It briefly raised the noise levels and expectations - showing the 22-year-old may be able to win round the doubters - but did little for the game.
James Ward-Prowse's wayward effort flew over on 65 minutes and Sadio Mane was off target 10 minutes later.
Pelle's tame strike rolled straight to Myhill as Southampton finished on top but never looked like scoring.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"@elliothowells: Has @mattletiss7 dyed his hair?" Not yet" - Former Southampton star Matt Le Tissier was on hand to debate the big talking points after the goalless draw.
Boaz Myhill: 6 (out of 10)
Craig Dawson: 7
Gareth McAuley: 7
Jonny Evans: 7
Chris Brunt: 7
Craig Gardner: 6
Darren Fletcher: 6
Claudio Yacob: 6
Callum McManaman: 7
Rickie Lambert: 5
Salomon Rondon: 5
Saido Berahino: 6
James McClean: 6
Jonas Olsson: 6
Maarten Stekelenburg: 6
Cedric Soares: 6
Jose Fonte: 6
Virgil van Dijk: 8
Matt Targett: 6
Victor Wanyama: 7
Steven Davis: 6
Dusan Tadic: 6
Graziano Pelle: 6
Jay Rodriguez: 6
Sadio Mane: 6
Maya Yoshida: 6
Virgil van Dijk: The Southampton debutant looked a class act as he instantly settled into the Saints' backline following his move from Celtic. Ronald Koeman paid big bucks for the Dutchman but he looked worth every penny after an assured performance at The Hawthorns. Van Dijk was not seriously stretched and he will have tougher examinations but, on first glance, looks money well spent.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
Saido Berahino's second-half return from the substitutes bench marked the first step to rehabilitation at West Brom. There was little to shout about from the match and, with all the pre-game talk about the striker, he remained the focal point during the game.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH:
Tony Pulis gave Saido Berahino his first shot at redemption and will be pleased the saga is behind them, if he may not have been thrilled with West Brom's tepid performance. Ronald Koeman would have been happy with Victor Wanyama's efficient performance after he stayed at St Mary's during the transfer window. Virgil van Dijk's debut would have also pleased him but he will be given sterner tests after Rickie Lambert and Salomon Rondon struggled.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
The highlights package will not be a long one after an instantly forgettable game which lacked quality, pace and excitement. Berahino's introduction was the only moment of note following his strike threat but even his return could not liven up the game. The fans will be forgiven for moaning about a game which will not live long in the Barclays Premier League archives.