Belfast Telegraph

Stoke City 0 Southampton 0: Toothless Saints can't take initiative without Austin

Stoke dug deep and rode their luck as toothless Southampton failed to capitalise on Marko Arnautovic's early sending off in this one-sided goalless draw.

Mark Hughes' 400th match as a Premier League manager looked set to end in disappointment when referee Anthony Taylor handed out a straight red card in the 23rd minute.

However, Arnautovic's departure did not cost Stoke against a Southampton side devoid of a killer instinct, with last-ditch defending, fine goalkeeping from Lee Grant and poor finishing seeing the match end 0-0 and emphasis how big of a loss the injured Charlie Austin is.

On Arnautovic's red card, Hughes said: "It's unfortunate because he caught him high on the thigh but it wasn't a violent movement. The ref wasn't great on the night, he missed a number of decisions and clearly missed an elbow from Shane Long on Bruno Martins Indi - that needs looking at again.

"Overall the ref put us in a situation and we had to show real work ethic and understanding of what was required. Given the circumstances, the point we gained was magnificent."

Claude Puel's men will kick themselves for failing to follow up Sunday's narrow win against Middlesbrough having dominated from the outset.

Long sent an effort whizzing wide after Erik Pieters gave up possession, with the locals' frustration audible as Puel's men continued to press.

Annoyance turned to anger in the 23rd minute as tricky attacker Soufiane Boufal was caught by Arnautovic. Referee Taylor convened with his linesman and handed out a straight red card.

Virgil van Dijk drilled a free-kick into the wall as Saints returned from the break on top, and ineffectual Stoke ace Xherdan Shaqiri punched a seat in the dugout when withdrawn denied.

Try as they might, there was to be no late joy for the Saints.

Belfast Telegraph


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