Sunday 18 February 2018

Pellegrino to fight goal famine

Southampton 0 Watford 2

Mauricio Pellegrino. Photo: Getty Images
Mauricio Pellegrino. Photo: Getty Images

Andy Sims

Mauricio Pellegrino has vowed to get to the root of Southampton's struggles in front of goal. Saints did not manage a single effort on target until stoppage time yesterday. It meant the shot-shy hosts drew a blank for the third time in their four Premier League matches so far this season.

Yet the problem dates back to long before Pellegrino arrived as manager - Saints have now not found the net in nine of their last 12 league outings.

"It was tough for everybody but we have to keep going and keep working," said Pellegrino. "I am here because the team was in trouble last season. If everything was perfect there would be a different manager here."

Watford showed Southampton just how to shoot as long-range strikes from Abdoulaye Doucoure and Daryl Janmaat lifted Marco Silva's side into the top four.

Neither goalkeeper had been forced into action until seven minutes before half-time when Saints only half-cleared a ball into their penalty area. It fell to Doucoure 20 yards out and the French midfielder lashed a right-footed volley past Fraser Forster and into the bottom corner.

A Watford defence already hit by injuries was stretched further when Younes Kaboul and Kiko Femenia both limped off on the hour. But rather than knocking the visitors out of their stride, the enforced changes paid immediate dividends as one of the substitutes, Janmaat, expertly found the far corner from 25 yards out.

Pellegrino sent on Shane Long and Charlie Austin in desperate search of a goal, but the only cheers from the home crowd were the ironic ones which greeted the first shot on target, from Cedric Soares, in time added on.

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