Wasteful Southampton held by Swansea

Gabbiadini

Southampton’s Manolo Gabbiadini headed against the crossbar in the opening two minutes and has not scored in nine Saints matches

A wasteful Southampton side were held by Swansea at St Mary’s Stadium in new manager Mauricio Pellegrino’s first competitive match in charge of the Saints.

The hosts created the better opportunities in an entertaining stalemate but were denied by poor finishing and good goalkeeping as chance after chance was spurned, particularly in a one-sided first half.

Striker Manolo Gabbiadini hit a post with a header after only 90 seconds, Dusan Tadic fired wide from four yards and Maya Yoshida failed to find the target with an acrobatic volley and a late close-range header, while Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski also denied James Ward-Prowse.

Sub Charlie Austin hit the side-netting with a chance deep in stoppage time.

The Swans’ best opportunities were spurned when Tammy Abraham headed wide after 10 minutes and Leroy Fer blasted a volley off target just after the interval, but they will be grateful for a point after being on the back foot for large spells.

The Saints have not won a home opener since 1988-89 and have been victorious only twice in 19 seasons of Premier League football on the opening day.

Pellegrino off to a slow start

For the Saints, there is instant pressure on manager Pellegrino to not only consolidate at a club that finished eighth last season and reached a cup final, but to do so playing a more entertaining brand of football than his predecessor Claude Puel.

The Premier League’s third Argentine manager will be seeking to match his efforts last year in Spain, having led Alaves to ninth in La Liga and the Copa del Rey final.

Southampton have finished in the top eight of the Premier League in each of the last four seasons, but they did not score in their final five home league fixtures last season and only managed 17 home goals all term at home.

However, there was no shortage on chances created by his side against Paul Clement’s men, with Gabbiadini heading against the woodwork within 90 seconds and Tadic missing a sitter from close range after superb link-up play from Ryan Bertrand and Nathan Redmond.

Even in failing to score, there was at least a sense with the Saints fans that they were seeing a keener commitment to attacking football and they might have won it at the end, had Yoshida not headed wide from close range.

In the absence of last season’s top scorer Fernando Llorente, who has a broken arm, and Everton transfer target Gylfi Sigurdsson, the Swans were without their top two attacking talents and they struggled to create much at all.

Main men missing

For both clubs, the contest was notable as much for who did not feature as for who did, with both sides forced to do without their star players.

For Southampton, there remains a degree of uncertainty about defender Virgil Van Dijk, who has made clear his intention to leave St Mary’s despite Saints’ insistence he is unavailable for transfer. The club said he missed the big match with a virus.

Swansea expect key performer Gylfi Sigurdsson to complete his protracted move to Everton sooner rather than later, with the Iceland international having largely made himself unavailable for pre-season.

The absence of the £100m rated-pair has cast a large shadow over both clubs this summer and, as was the case at St Mary’s, both managers must probably learn to do without their star men going forward. Swansea, especially, are clearly going to miss their attacking talisman.

Swans likely to be in battle at bottom again?

Swansea, of the two sides, will probably feel they have the most work to do in order to avoid a season of struggle after their remarkable escape from relegation last season.

Much of their hope will rest on young shoulders, with two players with an outside chance of forcing themselves into England World Cup contention likely to be pivotal.

Central defender Alfie Mawson started the season as he finished the last, in superb form, while on-loan Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham will reflect on what might have been.

He headed wide with Swansea’s best opportunity and will need more consistent service if he is to match his tally of 27 goals for Bristol City in the Championship last term. A partnership between him and Llorente will tantalise Swans fans.

However, the Swans will be content with how they defended in their opening encounter, having absorbed large spells of pressure, but they have now failed to score in seven of their 11 meetings with the Saints in the Premier League.

Man of the match: Oriol Romeu (Southampton)

Southampton<!–

Oriol Romeu made more passes (80) than any other player in the match, made three tackles and four interceptions

‘We suffered at times’

Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino said: “We did everything to win the game but we couldn’t. We controlled the ball, created chances but this is football – you have to get goals and we couldn’t do so.

“As a manager, we can work on how to create chances but sometimes it is really difficult to score – we had 29 shots.

“Swansea is a good team, they were ready to attack us but we were well balanced and that was the key to controlling the game in the second half. For us it is best to keep going, keep training and we have another game on Saturday

“I think we have quality and spirit in the team.”

Swansea boss Paul Clement said: “It was a hard afternoon, they had a massive amount of chances, set-play after set-play and we suffered at times.

“I’m happy we ended up with a point and it could have been a lot worse. The last-gasp defending was good but we didn’t use the ball well enough further up the pitch.

“We are pleased we have got out of here with a draw. Every game we play we have to try to get points on the board and look to play better. I’m sure they will be disappointed and think ‘how have we not won’.”

More to follow.

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Live Text

Match ends, Southampton 0, Swansea City 0.

Second Half ends, Southampton 0, Swansea City 0.

Attempt missed. Charlie Austin (Southampton) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

Attempt missed. Maya Yoshida (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right from a direct free kick.

Oriol Romeu (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jordan Ayew (Swansea City).

Jay Fulton (Swansea City) is shown the yellow card.

Dusan Tadic (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jay Fulton (Swansea City).

Attempt blocked. Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Sam McQueen.

Sofiane Boufal (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jay Fulton (Swansea City).

Foul by Maya Yoshida (Southampton).

Jordan Ayew (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt missed. Cédric Soares (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Oriol Romeu.

Substitution, Southampton. Sam McQueen replaces Ryan Bertrand.

Substitution, Swansea City. Oliver McBurnie replaces Wayne Routledge.

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Attempt blocked. Jack Stephens (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

Attempt missed. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Steven Davis.

Substitution, Swansea City. Kyle Bartley replaces Tammy Abraham.

Attempt missed. Maya Yoshida (Southampton) header from the right side of the six yard box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Oriol Romeu with a headed pass following a corner.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Lukasz Fabianski.

Attempt saved. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Kyle Naughton.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Kyle Naughton.

Substitution, Swansea City. Jay Fulton replaces Leon Britton.

Steven Davis (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Jordan Ayew (Swansea City).

Substitution, Southampton. Sofiane Boufal replaces James Ward-Prowse.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Federico Fernández.

Attempt blocked. Steven Davis (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Federico Fernández.

Attempt blocked. Maya Yoshida (Southampton) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross.

Substitution, Southampton. Charlie Austin replaces Manolo Gabbiadini.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Lukasz Fabianski.

Attempt missed. Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse.

Foul by Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton).

Jordan Ayew (Swansea City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Nathan Redmond.

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