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Clasie strike earns Saints victory at West Brom

Jordy Clasie's first Premier League goal earned Saints three points at the Hawthorns this afternoon

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Jordy Clasie's first Premier League goal earned Southampton an important win at West Brom this afternoon in a hard-fought victory.

The Dutchman's 24th minute strike proved the difference, with Maya Yoshida and Fraser Forster excellent on the day.

After a sloppy start from both sides, Southampton emerged to dominate the first half with crisp passing and one and two touch football.

Even with Oriol Romeu and Steven Davis missing, Saints were confident on the ball with Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic probing the West Brom defense.

Salomon Rondon snatched at an early chance, before Tadic's pull back narrowly evaded the onrushing James Ward-Prowse. James Morrison forced a smart save from Forster twenty minutes in, collecting Rondon's knock down and trying his luck from just outside the box.

Cedric Soares should have done better moments later, breaking free down the right with Shane Long unmarked in the box - yet he couldn't find his man.

Matt Phillips looked lively for the home side, dancing through challenges and driving the team on, as did Redmond for Saints.

Despite all the intricate footwork, Southampton's goal came from as direct a source imaginable. Forster kicked it long, with Long outmaneuvering his defender before expertly taking the ball down. He fed Tadic, who was marked in the box, but showed great composure to pick out Jordy clasie, who rifled home from the edge of the box.

West Bromwich Albion v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Saints went up a gear following the goal, with Redmond and Tadic pulling the strings and Long a menace. The Irishman looked to have raced through clean on goal 38 minutes in, only to fall over for some bizarre reason, perhaps taking a dive or being clipped by the defender when he should have gone on to score.

Seconds later, Forster had to impressively claw away Rondon's back post header following a great cross down West Brom's right.

Another tidy Southampton move ended in Long heading Redmond's cross wide of the post just before half time. Saints were creating chances and well on top.

The second half was far less comfortable for the visitors, with Tony Pulis making three substitutions that changed the flow of the game. James McClean in particular was a real threat when he replaced Phillips, running at Southampton and putting in several good crosses.

Rondon wasted a few half chances in the second 45, but both Forster and Maya Yoshida excelled in shutting out the Baggies. Captaining the side, the Japanese showed great tenacity, tactical awareness and positioning throughout while Forster made several important stops.

The Englishman did brilliantly to deny McClean 63 minutes in, rushing off his line to paw the ball away with the Irishman bearing down on the Saints' goal following a long pass out of defense.

A couple of easy gathers followed for Forster from both Rondon, again, and Naser Chadli, but it was late in the match that the England stopper really earned his coin.

With West Brom pushing for an equaliser, Saints dug deep and defended with their lives. Hal Robson-Kanu fluffed a chance after Forster parried McClean's cross under pressure, with the visitors defending corner after corner.

Both Redmond and Tadic cut in to bend shots in from the channels in the second half, but it was West Brom who were in the driving seat.

Five minutes of extra time saw yet more drama, with Forster making two excellent saves late on. Craig Dawson latched on to a chipped through ball, but Saints' goalie somehow managed to deny him despite the effort coming from just a couple of yards.
Jonny Evans was also denied in the 94th minute, with the immense Forster reacting well and saving from under his bar. Saints dug in to earn a vital three points and move just 4 behind West Brom in eighth position.

Having reached the magic 40 point mark with eight games to to, Saints will be looking to finish in the top eight for the fourth consecutive season. The team seems to have found a good rhythm under Claude Puel, with more consistent team selections helping the Frenchman to get the best out of his players.

Next up, Man city.

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, McAuley (Brunt), Evans, Nyom, Fletcher (c) (Robson-Kanu), Livermore, Morrison, Phillips (McClean), Chadli, Rondon.

Subs: Myhill, M Wilson, Yacob, Field, McClean, Brunt, Robson-Kanu.

Saints: Forster, Cedric, Stephens, Yoshida (c), Bertrand, Clasie (Reed), Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse (McQueen), Tadic, Redmond (Sims), Long.

Subs: Hassen, Caceres, McQueen, Pied, Reed, Sims, Rodriguez.