Robson-Kanu cracker seals comeback win for Baggies

Date published: Saturday 31st December 2016 4:52

Hal Robson-Kanu: Seals rare away win for WBA

Hal Robson-Kanu fired his first goal of the season as West Brom clinched a 2-1 Premier League win over 10-man Southampton at St Mary’s.

Matt Phillips drove home West Brom’s first before playing in Robson-Kanu for a stunning winner – his maiden strike for the Baggies.

Former West Brom striker Shane Long had earlier ended a 21-match drought for his first goal for Saints this term, only for Claude Puel’s muddled strategy to trip up his side once more.

Home captain Virgil van Dijk was sent off for a second yellow card at the death to cap a wretched afternoon for the hosts.

Defender Allan Nyom had earlier been lucky to escape seeing red for West Brom, avoiding a second booking despite clumsily clattering Dusan Tadic.

West Brom boss Tony Pulis withdrew the 28-year-old shortly after half-time, pitching in midfielder James McClean and demanding a more attacking outlook.

The switch immediately paid off, with Robson-Kanu lighting up the south coast by unleashing a strike of the highest quality.

West Brom leapfrogged Southampton into eighth in the table with the win, leaving the Saints to rue their continued incoherence in attack.

Pulis had come under fire for his ultra-defensive strategy in consecutive 1-0 away defeats at Chelsea and Arsenal – but showed his more progressive qualities here as the visitors pulled off a solid victory.

Southampton bossed territory and possession from the off, but appeared rudderless in the final third.

That frequent lack of incision under Puel can account in part for Long’s troubles in front of goal.

The Ireland forward struck 13 goals under Ronald Koeman last term, but had since drawn a blank.

So after 21 appearances in all competitions without a goal, Long met his first-half header with palpable relief.

Tadic’s corner allowed Long to peel off and lose Nyom, then head past Ben Foster at the near post.

Just as Saints were toasting the breakthrough however, Chris Brunt fed Phillips – and the former QPR winger drilled in a fine equaliser.

The emboldened Baggies withdrew the troubled Nyom for McClean shortly after the break, switching their system in an aggressive bid to control the clash.

The dividends were immediate, as Phillips sent Robson-Kanu haring clear of Saints’ fast evaporating cover.

The Wales forward took just one touch before unleashing a pile driver that stunned Fraser Forster and wrestled the visitors into a 2-1 lead.

Southampton boss Puel threw Jay Rodriguez into attack in a bid to alter the outcome, but still the hosts appeared to be clutching at straws on the front foot.

And when Van Dijk upended the onrushing Salomon Rondon just outside the Saints box, the ignominy was all but complete for Saints.

The Dutchman was rightly given his marching orders for a second booking, as he collided with West Brom striker Rondon.

Replacement striker Rondon actually wasted two fine chances late on, but still West Brom eased home.

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