A second-half strike from Southampton captain Adam Lallana made sure that his side took a 1-0 win from Saturday's Premier League meeting with West Bromwich Albion.
The focus during the game's build-up was on Pepe Mel, the newly appointed West Brom manager who signed an 18-month contract at the club on Thursday. Mel looked on from the stands at St Mary's as his new side's unbeaten Premier League run of four matches came to an end, and the former Real Betis manager takes over a club that sits only three points above the relegation places.
Caretaker manager 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 lackluster 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 its 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, the subject of ongoing interest from Hull City during the transfer window, 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 counterattack, but a lack of composure let the team down and Mel will not have been enthused by his new side’s slack play.
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.
In the 66th minute, Southampton finally broke the deadlock with a moment of rare 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 as West Brom's afternoon ended in frustration.
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- Adam Lallana