Southampton battled to a goalless Premier League draw against West Ham on Saturday but could have stolen the points right at the end.
Key to a 15-minute flurry of Saints pressure towards the end of the contest was the introduction of Armando Broja – on-loan from Chelsea for the season but already impressing for club and country.
The 19-year-old Albanian international was brought on for Adam Armstrong in the 74th minute. Armstrong had plugged away himself with very little to work with against West Ham defenders who towered over him, but Broja changed the game in Saints’ favour.
Three actions in particular showed that the young man is more than a match for many Premier League defenders.
Broja bursts into the game and almost wins it for Southampton
With his first touches of the ball, Broja got Saints fans off their seats.
He received the ball from Nathan Redmond on the right and, with a quick flick, sped onto the loose ball on the other side of his marker Angelo Ogbonna. Once into the box, he got his head up and almost found Moi Elyounoussi with a pass but saw the Norwegian well blocked in the end.
Broja was not done there though. He had scored two crucial goals for Albania during the international break and was clearly in the mood to bag his first Premier League goal.
First, he took a clearance inside his own half and spun one West Ham defender before again finding himself one-on-one against Ogbonna, who was backing off towards his own area.
Once the edge of the box had been reached, Broja had the chance to work space for a shot and he was just inches away from grabbing the winner after seeing his low effort flick off the post.
Then in stoppage-time, he saw his header from a corner cleared off the line with the goal technology system showing that there were just inches between the striker and his first top-flight goal again.
Saints have strong options to fill their striker positions right now. Adam Armstrong and Che Adams are also players capable of winning a game for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side and other options also remain on the bench.
Broja’s form should surely see him handed a run in the side though and the beauty of improved squad competition will be the motivation this gives to others to push back ahead of him.