16.02.2024 23:45 h

Southampton back to second in Championship with win at West Brom

Southampton got their bid for promotion from English football's second-tier Championship back on track with a 2-0 win away to West Bromwich Albion on Friday.

The Saints' 25-game unbeaten run had come to an end with a 3-1 defeat at Bristol City on Tuesday.

But Ryan Fraser's first-half volley and substitute David Brooks' strike 17 minutes from full-time ensured normal service was resumed at The Hawthorns.

Southampton were helped on their way after West Brom manager Carlos Coberan was sent off in extraordinary fashion in just the seventh minute as his club's prospective new American owner watched from the stands.

West Brom were then denied a penalty after Jack Stephens' handball.

Victory for Southampton meant they leapfrogged Leeds into second place but still left the south coast side 11 points behind leaders Leicester.

Leeds, however, can regain second position away to Plymouth on Saturday.

All three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season are in pole position to bounce straight back up.

But only the top two teams at the end of the regular campaign are guaranteed automatic promotion, with the other place among English football's elite decided by a series of play-games involving the next four clubs.

Friday's result left West Brom in fifth spot.

"We were really disappointed with how things went during the week so today was all about putting that right," Southampton midfielder Stuart Armstrong told Sky Sports.

"Some parts of the game weren't spectacular but we got the three points and it's a good performance in the end."

United States national flags were on show as Baggies fans welcomed Florida-based entrepreneur Shilen Patel to The Hawthorns.

Earlier this week, West Brom announced Patel and his father had agreed a deal worth a reported £60 million ($75.6 million) to acquire Guochuan Lai's 87.8 percent majority stake in the Midlands club.

The purchase, approved by the English Football League, is set to be completed next week.

But it was Southampton, unbeaten in any competition since September 23 until their defeat by Bristol City, who dominated the early stages.

Coberan, renowned for talking to his players from the touchline, was then sent off after leaving his technical area to retrieve the ball when in fact it had not gone out of play.

Seven minutes later, Southampton went ahead when Fraser fired home from Armstrong's ball to the back post.

Albion were angered in first half stoppage time when Conor Townsend's shot struck Stephens' arm in the box, only for their penalty appeals to fall on deaf ears.

The Saints doubled their lead in the 73rd minute when Brooks calmly passed the ball into the bottom corner from eight yards out to score his first Southampton goal since a January loan move from Bournemouth.

Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu maintained the 2-0 scoreline when he turned over Okay Yokuslu's free header.