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Pepe Mel watched on from the stands as his West Bromwich Albion side lost 1-0 to Southampton thanks to Adam Lallana's second-half strike.
The former Real Betis boss, who signed an 18-month contract at the Midlands club on Thursday, took a watching brief on Saturday as his new side's unbeaten Barclays Premier League run of four matches came to an end.
Caretaker head coach Keith Downing had led the visitors to a win and three draws in his four games in charge, but his last match at the helm ended in disappointing defeat following a lacklustre display.
England international Lallana struck the only goal of the game midway through the second half, collecting Gaston Ramirez's superb clipped pass to slot home and hand Southampton just their second win in 10 league games.
Both teams made three changes from their previous league outings, Artur Boruc returning from a hand injury in goal for the hosts – who also brought Rickie Lambert back in. Shane Long came in for West Brom to partner Nicolas Anelka in attack.
In a first half devoid of goalmouth action, Lallana and Lambert were the only men to muster efforts on target, both players seeing their shots from distance comfortably saved by Ben Foster.
West Brom's best openings came on the counter-attack, but a lack of composure let them down and Mel might not have been enthused by his new side's flat display.
Jay Rodriguez wasted a good chance to give the hosts the lead six minutes after the break, the England striker firing wide of goal after robbing Youssouf Mulumbu in midfield, but in the 66th minute, Southampton finally broke the deadlock with a moment of real quality.
Ramirez, on as a substitute just four minutes earlier, chipped a delightful no-look pass into the path of Lallana, who took a touch to control on the edge of the area before firing through the legs of Foster and into the net.
Long should have earned a point for his side with a minute remaining, sidefooting straight at Boruc from six yards out after being picked out by Liam Ridgewell's ball from the left as West Brom's afternoon ended in frustration.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino: “It’s actually really great to get back to winning ways here at St Mary’s. I am very happy and very happy with the team’s performance.
“I think it was a great victory and the team fully deserved the win. I want to congratulate my players because they did ever so well.
“It’s great to get back to winning ways here. Overall the first half we played very well and had full control of the game. The substitution in the second half with Gaston [Ramirez] was very good and gave us a lot of dynamism in the team. The assist to Lallana was great. Overall we had a great second half as well.”
West Bromwich Albion interim head coach Keith Downing: “We had great chance at the end and we're disappointed we didn't snatch a point but the keeper spread himself and made a great save. We plugged away and it opened up in the last fifteen to twenty minutes when we made the changes. We were very solid defensively but we didn't hurt them enough when we had the ball.
"I would have loved to have gone unbeaten throughout a very difficult and hectic period but I've got to credit the players for all their effort and commitment. Also the staff - they've been really supportive. Everyone at the football club is trying to pull the right way and I think that's a credit to everybody here.
"Mel seems a very warm man, a man with integrity and he wants to do well. He has new ideas coming from Spain, and I can try to give him my experience and then it'll be down to the manager to decide how he wants to play and what type of players he wants. He left me alone today; I was given the respect to say 'you've taken it throughout the week so carry on'."
|18 Jan 2014||v Sunderland (A)|
|28 Jan 2014||v Arsenal (H)|
|01 Feb 2014||v Fulham (A)|
|08 Feb 2014||v Stoke (H)|
|11 Feb 2014||v Hull (A)|
|22 Feb 2014||v West Ham (A)|