Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Three see red as Baggies beat Saints

Marc Antoine-Fortune, Romelu Lukaku, pictured, and Shane Long were on target at Southampton

Referee Robert Madley had a Barclays Premier League debut to remember as he dished out three red cards during West Brom's record-breaking 3-0 victory at Southampton.

Marc Antoine-Fortune opened the scoring in just the sixth minute after Saints failed to clear their lines. Fortune helped the Baggies double their lead after the break, putting through the ever-impressive Romelu Lukaku, but three minutes later was sent off, having raised his hands to Gaston Ramirez, who also saw red for throwing an arm at Shane Long.

Seven minutes from time Southampton's Danny Fox was sent off for a nasty two-footed challenge on Steven Reid. Long had already made it 3-0 by that point as West Brom set a new club record for Premier League matches won (14) and points gained (48), much to the delight of the bumper away crowd of 3,195.

Steve Clarke's side dominated from the outset and Reid played through Lukaku early on, forcing Artur Boruc into action at his near post. The Poland international could only turn the ball for a corner from which West Brom took a sixth-minute lead. Graham Dorrans' set piece was nodded goalwards by Gareth McAuley and then Lukaku, allowing Fortune to bundle home from close range.

In truth, it was a poor goal to concede and typified a lacklustre start by the hosts. After Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and Jay Rodriguez all had shots, West Brom came close to punishing more lax defending. Fine team interplay saw the ball swept out wide to Lukaku, only for the Chelsea loanee to again be denied by Boruc.

Nathaniel Clyne had to be alert to thwart Long and only a dollop of good luck prevented West Brom netting a second before the half-hour mark. Dorrans sent in a free-kick that found Jonas Olsson unmarked at the back-post, but his ball across the face of goal just evaded Lukaku.

Lukaku was denied by Boruc late in the half for the visitors, whose midfielder Claudio Yacob was fortunate not to be sent off after clattering Adam Lallana moments after being booked. Boos welcomed the half-time whistle as the home fans expressed their frustration with the performance of referee Madley.

It took 10 minutes after the break for the hosts to seriously threaten a leveller, with a Clyne cross-shot hitting the crossbar. Saints were still looking poor, though, and found themselves two goals behind in the 67th minute. Fortune was allowed to turn far too easily and his through ball found Lukaku, who rounded Boruc before slotting home.

It was a fine assist by Fortune, whose afternoon was brought to a premature end three minutes later. Upset by Ramirez's elbow to Long, the West Brom frontman pushed the Uruguayan in the face. It led Madley to show Fortune a straight red card - something he also handed out to Ramirez.

West Brom would not be denied for long, though, with Long slotting home past Boruc after getting away from Jos Hooiveld. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors seven minutes from time when Fox was sent off for a terrible two-footed lunge on Reid. Not since Portsmouth faced Sunderland in February 2010 has a Premier League match seen three cards.

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