Wanyama was banned from the visit to Sunderland while the home team were without their own ‘enforcer,’ Cattermole. A surprise omission was Soares, with Yoshida taking over at right back, the explanation seeming to be that Saints didn’t know what to expect tactically from the hosts following their heavy defeat last time out. As it happened, there was very little to worry about by way of attacking threat and it was just a question of whether they might lose concentration and concede a silly goal. The match stats showed Saints with over 65% first half possession so this was clearly a game to win and although they had forced Pantillimon into action a couple of times, a bit more was needed in terms of guile and/or urgent action up front. They did seem to be more focussed on this aspect in the second period but Coates made an acrobatic clearance off the line when a Davis shot looked like breaking the deadlock. Instead we had to rely on some naïve defending when M’Vila launched into an ill-controlled and unnecessary tackle on Bertrand that won us a penalty. For a fan base brought up on Peach, LeTissier and Lambert, Tadić does not look to be a natural spot kick expert, but he claims to have missed only once in his career – just a shame that we should have been there to see it last season. This time, following a customary wave to the crowd, his aim was true, with the ball drilled past the considerable length of Pantillimon, so Saints were on their way. Sunderland created their only threats of the game in the last 20 minutes, forcing Stekelenburg into his one save and seeing Johnson hit a free kick narrowly over before Yoshida escaped what at the time looked like a penalty box handball – although TV is less clear. Caulker came on for Tadić to see out the last five minutes, which reduced Saints to some agricultural clearances that were out of character with their overall performance.
LSSC Man of the Match: Virgil Van Dijk. Certainly he was our dominant defender, but the efforts of Clasie, Davis and Ward-Prowse were forcing Sunderland into a succession of long forward hoofs that played into the hands of ‘Big Dick.’
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