Stoke 0-0 Southampton: Match Report

14 December 2016 10:34

Toothless Southampton held by 10-man Stoke

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

Saints were on top before Arnautovic's red card for a challenge on Sofiane Boufal, but top scorer Charlie Austin's absence was glaring at the bet365 Stadium - a worrying sign given the striker could be out for four months.

Anger at the sending off grew after Shane Long appeared to elbow Bruno Martins Indi off the ball without punishment in a tempestuous clash.

Southampton peppered Stoke's goal throughout the second half yet were unable to eke a winner, with substitute Jay Rodriguez somehow failing to turn home a Boufal cross.

Claude Puel's men will kick themselves for failing to follow up Sunday's narrow win against Middlesbrough having dominated from the outset without reward.

The energy of Boufal and Long caused an early headache at the bet365 Stadium, with each forward getting away chances in the opening exchanges.

Xherdan Shaqiri's threaded pass saw Joe Allen force Fraser Forster into action at the other end, but lax Stoke passing was allowing Saints to control possession.

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

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

Stoke supporters made their irritation clear and were irked further when Martins Indi hit the deck after an off-the-ball incident in which Long appeared to elbow the giant defender.

No booking was forthcoming from under-pressure ref Taylor, who was greeted by boos at the end of a half in which Ryan Bertrand and James Ward-Prowse failed with weak efforts.

Virgil van Dijk drilled a free-kick into the wall as Saints returned from the break on top, with Grant producing a fine stop to deny fleet-footed Nathan Redmond before then seeing a flicked header blocked by Pieters.

The ineffectual Shaqiri punched a seat in the dugout when withdrawn and could only watch on as Saints continued to attack, with Boufal seeing a cross-shot denied before Bertrand's fizzing effort was superbly stopped by Grant.

Van Dijk headed over and Ward-Prowse was thwarted by a late block in-between Southampton's best chance, with substitute Rodriguez somehow failing to connect with a Boufal cross to the back post.

Try as they might, there was to be no late joy for visiting fans as Saints' need for a new striker was underlined emphatically.


Source: PA


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