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Rickie Lambert capped a dream week by scoring a last-minute penalty to give Southampton a 1-0 victory at The Hawthorns. The 31-year old netted the winner for England against Scotland on his international debut in midweek, and was on hand to claim a win for his club by coolly dispatching his spot-kick after Youssouf Mulumbu had fouled Luke Shaw in the area.
West Brom handed a debut to Nicolas Anelka, appearing for the sixth Premier League club of his career, but Zoltan Gera and George Thorne were ruled out through injury. Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino named new signings Victor Wanyama and Dejan Lovren in his starting XI, while Shaw shook off a groin problem to take his place in the team.
The visitors failed to score a league goal against West Brom last season, but they set about improving that statistic this time around with a high-tempo start. The home crowd breathed a sigh of relief after just five minutes as Jonas Olsson was forced to head behind an Adam Lallana cross, before Ben Foster fumbled a fizzing ball in from James Ward-Prowse shortly afterwards.
Southampton continued to press and thought they had taken the lead just after the half-hour mark when Lallana bundled in Lambert’s flick from close-range, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. West Brom then gained a foothold in the game and came close to opening the scoring 10 minutes before half-time when Graham Dorrans sent a 25-yard free-kick on to the roof of Artur Boruc’s net. But that was about the best the hosts could muster during the opening period, and Foster was again called into action on the stroke of half time, producing a great save to deny Shaw from 20 yards.
Southampton picked up where they left off after the break, and nearly broke the deadlock early on when Jay Rodriguez latched on to Lallana’s knockdown before clipping the bar with a thunderous strike. Moments later it was the hosts who went close when Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long sent a cheeky flick inches wide of Boruc’s post from six yards.
But the visitors were rewarded for their good performance in the dying minutes when Shaw was brought down by Mulumbu in the box. Lambert made no mistake from the spot, drilling his penalty into the bottom-left corner. Billy Jones threatened to draw the hosts level deep into stoppage-time, but his header was well saved by Boruc and Southampton held on to claim the win.
West Bromwich Albion head coach Steve Clarke: "We were disappointed with our first half, certainly with our start to the game, Southampton started much better. They were on the front foot from the off and they pinned us back. At half-time we readjusted a couple of things and second half I thought we were much better."
Southampton manager Mauro Pochettino: "Overall, Lambert's having a dream week, everything is going well for him but the greatest thing about this whole story about Rickie Lambert is that he deserves everything that he’s getting because he’s a brilliant person and a great footballer.
"I think in the overall reading of the game we were superior. In football nowadays you play for 94, 95 minutes and you always have to believe that you can win up until the last whistle. Because of that I want to congratulate my team because even in the second half when West Brom was pressing us quite hard, my team showed resolve to keep it at 0-0 and we were able to get that winning goal at the end."
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