Football: Saints start Pellegrino era with Swansea stalemate

Swansea City's Federico Fernandez applauds fan after the match.
Swansea City's Federico Fernandez applauds fan after the match.PHOTO: REUTERS

SOUTHAMPTON, United Kingdom (AFP) - Mauricio Pellegrino's first competitive match as Southampton manager saw the south coast club once more fail to score at home as they launched their Premier League season with a goalless against Swansea at St Mary's on Saturday (Aug 12).

The Argentinian was appointed after Southampton sacked Claude Puel, who guided the Saints to the League Cup final and eighth place in the Premier League last term, with club officials wanting a more attacking style of football than that played under the Frenchman.

From that point of view, a scoreless encounter with Swansea might not seem like the most encouraging start for Pellegrino, particularly as it meant the Saints had still not scored at home since a 3-1 league win over Crystal Palace on April 5.

It all suggested Pellegrino, who guided Alaves to ninth in La Liga and the Spanish Cup final before leaving in May after one season in charge, had plenty of work to do regarding Southampton's finishing.

Southampton were missing wantaway defender Virgil van Dijk, although that was because of a virus rather than the desire of the Dutch defender who has submitted a transfer request, to move to Liverpool.

Meanwhile Swansea were without Gylfi Sigurdsson, with the Welsh club yet to accept an offer from Liverpool's cross-town rivals Everton for the Icelandic playmaker.

Southampton squandered two early chances to take the lead, Manolo Gabbiadini's header from Ryan Bertrand's inswing corner brushing the top of the crossbar.

Dusan Tadic then stabbed wide following a cut back, with England international Bertrand again the provider, when the goal was at his mercy.

Swansea created just the one chance in the first half, but Tammy Abraham was wastefully off-target for the Welsh club with a free header.

Abraham had an effort blocked early in the second half before Gabbiadini curled a shot wide.

The Italian was replaced by Charlie Austin up front but it was Tadic who had the next chance, his powerful shot well saved by Lukasz Fabianski.

Japan's Maya Yoshida headed wide for the Saints when well-placed to score, with Austin off target in stoppage time as the hosts' finishing let them down again.