Southampton 0-0 Burnley: Alex McCarthy and Joe Hart shine in stalemate
Highlights and report as Jeff Hendrick and Jack Stephens come closest to breaking the deadlock
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 12/08/18 8:50pm
Southampton and Burnley played out a scoreless draw at St Mary's as goalkeepers Alex McCarthy and Joe Hart distinguished themselves with a string of fine saves.
The Clarets had the better chances in the opening half as Aaron Lennon and Jeff Hendrick were both denied from point-blank range by McCarthy, who vindicated his selection ahead of new signing Angus Gunn with an accomplished performance.
Southampton struggled to assert themselves until Mark Hughes moved to a back four, with substitute Danny Ings providing greater threat, and Hart was forced into a smart save as Ings found Jack Stephens with 18 minutes remaining.
Southampton: McCarthy (8), Soares (6), Vestegaard (8), Stephens (7), Hoedt (6), Bertrand (6), Romeu (6), Lemina (7), Armstrong (6), Redmond (7), Austin (5).
Subs: Ings (7), Elyounoussi (7), Gabbiadini (6)
Burnley: Hart (8), Lowton (6), Tarkowski (7), Mee (7), Ward (6), Westwood (6), Cork (7), Hendrick (6), Lennon (6), Gudmundsson (6), Wood (6).
Subs: Vokes, Barnes (6), Taylor (n/a)
Man of the match: Jannik Vestegaard (Southampton)
Ben Mee very nearly headed into his own goal, only for Ashley Westwood to produce a fine goal-line clearance as the points were shared on the south coast.
Mark Hughes cut a frustrated figure on the touchline throughout the opening 45 minutes, with the visitors by far the better side. They might have gone ahead when Jack Cork slotted beyond McCarthy, only for Southampton to be saved by the offside flag.
Burnley were almost rewarded for their positive start after Wesley Hoedt headed the ball into the path of Lennon, but McCarthy got down low to his right to make a smart save.
Alex McCarthy won the battle to be in goal for Southampton's opening game with Angus Gunn taking his place on the substitutes' bench. Stuart Armstrong and Jannik Vestergaard were handed full debuts while Danny Ings and Mohamed Elyounoussi were on the bench.
Sean Dyche also had a decision to make in goal with Joe Hart preferred to Tom Heaton, who had recovered from a calf injury. The rest of the Burnley starting XI had a familiar feel to it, with Chris Wood leading the line. New signing Ben Gibson was among the substitutes.
The Englishman was forced into action once more on the stroke of half-time as Hendrick met Mee's hooked cross with a downward header, but McCarthy smothered the effort with his legs.
Hoedt made a brilliant last-ditch block to deny Johann Berg Gudmundsson moments into the second period and it was only after Mohamed Elyounoussi and Ings were introduced that Southampton asked questions of the Burnley defence.
Mee was grateful for a brilliant goal-line headed clearance by Westwood from Elyounoussi's corner before Ings found Stephens at the far post, but Hart was equal to his effort low to his left.
With four minutes remaining, James Tarkowski made a brilliant block when the lively Elyounoussi was set to pull the trigger before Ings' penalty appeal under Mee's challenge was waved away in stoppage time as the points were shared.
- Southampton are winless in their last five opening day matches in the Premier League (D4 L1), last winning in August 2013 away at West Bromwich Albion (1-0).
- Burnley have drawn on the opening weekend of a Premier League season for the very first time, after losing three and winning one of their first four such matches.
- Southampton have never won an opening Premier League fixture when played on a Sunday, drawing three and losing three of their six matches.
- Burnley have won two and drawn two of their last four Premier League matches against Southampton, this after losing back-to-back games between March 2015 and October 2016.
- Southampton have registered just one win in their last 12 top-flight home games, drawing six and losing five.
- Southampton boss Mark Hughes has won just two of his 13 opening day matches as a Premier League manager (D3 L8), the fewest number of wins of any manager to take charge of at least 13 such matches.
Man of the match - Jannik Vestegaard
Southampton conceded more goals than any other side in the Premier League last season from crosses, but in signing Vestegaard, Mark Hughes should improve on that record.
The 6ft 6in Denmark centre-back, signed for £18million from German side Borussia Monchengladbach, won his aerial duel with Chris Wood and met countless balls into the Saints box to preserve his side's clean sheet.
Vestegaard will prove just as useful in the opposition penalty area this season, and he was unfortunate not to cap a fine debut with a goal as he met Stuart Armstrong's corner in the first half only to head over.
Notes for Gareth Southgate
The England manager was at Anfield watching the likes of Jack Wilshere and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but it was at St Mary's where another Englishman would have caught his eye.
Joe Hart insisted he had not given up hope of making the senior squad again following his World Cup ommission and with a far sterner defence in front of him than at West Ham, the 31-year-old will be confident of adding to his 75 caps.
Ryan Bertrand was another suprise name to be left out of England's 23-man squad in Russia, but the Southampton full-back found himself forced back for long periods of the first half due to Burnley's dominance.
The Saints improved after the break, and Bertrand's influence in the attacking third grew with it, but he will have to do a lot more to oust Ashley Young and Danny Rose from their places in the squad.
Mark Hughes: "I think we edged it. Our best play was in the second half and we were a lot more in control of the game, we created more chances and got behind them. We stopped them causing us too many problems. Their outball was to hit it longer because we were putting them under pressure.
"In the first-half they were turning us around a bit too readily, but I made a change personnel wise and system wise early in the second-half and all that was lacking was the goal that would have got us maximum points."
Sean Dyche: "We dominated quite a bit of the game away from home against a decent Southampton side. We had chances, but we continue to grow. I thought we dug in when he had to, and there were so many pleasing things about the performance.
"We kept the clean sheet and they came into it for the last 20 minutes but we saw the game through. Joe has provided me with a big decision to make because Tom (Heaton) has been brilliant with me for a long time."
What would VAR have changed?
Burnley's Cork had a goal disallowed for offside in the first half in what was a borderline decision that the match officials marginally got right, while Ings went down inside the box late on as his ankle rolled under a challenge from Mee.
Referee Graham Scott may have been advised to check the incident, but his decision to point for a goal-kick was not a clear and obvious error.
Southampton visit Goodison Park to face Everton next Saturday in the Premier League.
Burnley host Istanbul Basaksehir in the second leg of their Europa League third qualifying-round tie on Thursday before travelling to face Watford next Sunday.