Friday 19 January 2018

Mauricio Pellegrino salutes Sofiane Boufal's 'beautiful' goal after victory

Sofiane Boufal, left, netted the winner for Saints
Sofiane Boufal, left, netted the winner for Saints

Mauricio Pellegrino saluted Sofiane Boufal's "beautiful" goal after the Moroccan's mazy 70-yard run secured Southampton's 1-0 win over West Brom.

Substitute Boufal left six players in his wake, three of them on their backsides, before sliding the ball home for a truly memorable strike.

"I think it was a beautiful goal, one of the most beautiful goals of this season," said Saints boss Pellegrino.

It was going to take a moment of supreme quality, or abject stupidity, to settle an otherwise drab affair and thankfully it was the former as Southampton's record signing secured their second home win of the season.

With the visitors exhibiting their customary lack of ambition on the road, Southampton had to take the initiative and were rewarded with a wonder goal five minutes from time.

Boufal, who has started only one game this season and had only come on four minutes earlier, spun away from two West Brom players deep inside his own half.

He then skipped past Jake Livermore, slipped between Allan Nyom and Craig Dawson as the duo ran into each other, stepped around Gareth McAuley and curled the ball past Ahmed Hegazi and inside the far post.

"It changed the game because it was a difficult game, but the most important thing was we deserved the win," added Pellegrino.

"We were better than them in my opinion and we dominated the game. I am happy for Sofiane."

Ryan Bertrand hit a post with a deflected free-kick while Shane Long and Oriol Romeu missed close-range chances as Saints dominated the first half.

But Albion almost caught them with a sucker-punch before Boufal's heroics when Jay Rodriguez burst through against his former club, only to shank his effort wide.

"It's disappointing," said West Brom manager Tony Pulis.

"I thought in the first half they dominated possession and had a couple of good chances, but in the second half we changed it and we were much more competitive.

"We had the best chance of the game with Jay, if we score that we probably go and win the game. And then the kid scores a special goal.

"I wasn't happy with a couple of challenges, but people will say that's over-critical."

Pulis was also left with injury worries over Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson, who will undergo scans on Sunday.

Evans' groin injury will be of particular concern to Northern Ireland with the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Switzerland just 19 days away.

Press Association

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