- Ward-Prowse with first-half brace (5, pen 35)
- Tadic adds second-half third (72)
- Attendance: 29,622
- Albion star man: Claudio Yacob
ALBION’s fine recent form deserted them as they slumped to a punishing 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at Southampton.
The Baggies looked tired and sluggish after their midweek heroics at Chelsea and were up against it from the moment James Ward-Prowse curled in a magnificent fifth minute free-kick.
A hotly-disputed penalty, awarded against Craig Dawson as he challenged Matt Targett, was converted by Ward-Prowse to give Saints a two-goal lead before the break.
A difficult afternoon became even worse for Albion when skipper Darren Fletcher, who picked up a knock before the interval, failed to reappear for the second half.
Head coach Tony Pulis took the opportunity for a reshuffle which eventually saw three strikers – Victor Anichebe joined by subs Salomon Rondon and Saido Berahino – on the pitch in a desperate effort to retrieve the game.
But it left them vulnerable on the break and they were picked off by Saints in the 72nd minute for Dusan Tadic to finish well.
To their credit, Albion kept plugging away but an early header from Craig Gardner and an Anichebe volley which flew wide were all they could muster.
It was not the result with which Pulis imagined celebrating his 58th birthday but he and his players will not dwell on this setback for long as they now prepare for Tuesday’s FA Cup third round replay at Bristol City.
SOUTHAMPTON: Forster; Cedric (Martina 84), Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand, Targett; Davis (Romeu 72), Wanyama, Ward-Prowse, Mane (Tadic 63), Long
Subs: Davis, Yoshida, Pelle, Juanmi
ALBION: Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Olsson (Rondon 46), Evans; Sessegnon (Berahino 63), Fletcher (Brunt 46), Yacob, McClean; Gardner; Anichebe.
Subs: Foster; Chester, Lambert, McManaman
Referee: Martin Atkinson (Bradford).