Coming from behind to beat Premier League relegation rivals West Brom 3-2 away from home helped to reinforce Southampton’s identity, according to manager Mauricio Pellegrino.
After falling behind to Ahmed Hegazi’s fourth-minute header at The Hawthorns, the Saints scored through Mario Lemina, Jack Stephens and James Ward-Prowse to take control.
They held out to secure three important points despite Salomon Rondon’s header with 18 minutes to go offering the Baggies hope of snatching a draw.
“It’s really important for us, obviously,” a relieved Pellegrino told a news conference after his team climbed out of the relegation zone and up to 14th place.
“Overall, for me, to believe and have the confidence in what we are and what we do on the pitch to reinforce our identity is important.
“Of course, when you don’t have good results everybody comes under criticism, and that’s normal – it’s part of our life.
“But I try and persuade my players that our identity, with the ball on the floor, to create space… today was a difficult situation, it was a really hard game because it was close until the end.
“West Brom are really strong in how they play in crosses, but we deserved to win and probably deserved to score another goal.
“Overall, the most important thing was to improve our level and our belief.”
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 3, 2018
West Brom, the Premier League’s bottom side, had been unbeaten from four matches in all competitions before losing 3-0 at runaway leaders Manchester City on Wednesday.
And boss Alan Pardew felt his players’ physical exertions in vain at the Etihad Stadium left them ill-equipped to cope with Southampton.
“The squad was a little bit light today in terms of freshening things up, and I think that showed,” he said.
“They looked a bit fresher than us, a couple of changes they made in midfield.
“We had a couple of guys who played at Man City and had to back it up today. Normally I’d have probably have rested them.
“I think we ran more at Man City than we had done all season. The effort of the boys was tremendous in that particular game, but it showed today.
“We didn’t have the energy I would’ve liked. Fortunately now, we sort of go week to week, and hopefully we can get a few bodies back. We missed some players today, for sure.”
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