Danny Ings netted a dramatic winner as Southampton came from behind to defeat second placed Leicester City, avenging their 9-0 humiliation in October.
The Saints travelled to the King Power Stadium hoping for their third straight win on the bounce but faced a high-flying Leicester side who had yet to lose a game in 2020. Ralph Hasenhuttl made one change from the team that beat Tottenham, with Shane Long returning to the attack in place of Moussa Djenepo.
Leicester were slow starting the game and were very nearly punished early on as Danny Ings chased down Caylar Soyuncu’s wildly misguided clearance to find himself one on one with the Leicester keeper. However, Schmeichel made himself big and twice denied Ings from close range.
Despite their sluggish start, it was the home side who struck first in the 14th minute as a quick free-kick from Ayoze Perez set up Jamie Vardy down the left hand side and the striker produced a pin-point cross to Dennis Praet, who tapped in at the far post. The midfielder celebrated his first goal in English football following a reported £18 million move from Sampdoria in August.
However, any thoughts of another easy Foxes win were soon dispelled. Just five minutes later, Ings spread the ball out wide to Long who picked out Stuart Armstrong. Armstrong fired the ball goal bound from 16-yards with the shot taking a wicked deflection off James Maddison to wrong foot Schmeichel and find the back of the net.
Southampton came close to doubling their lead towards the end of the half as Ings was unlucky not to convert on two occasions in quick succession. First, the forward got across Soyuncu at the near post to meet Armstrong’s low cross, with his shot hitting the top of the woodwork. Moments later, Ings instinctively rifled the ball towards goal from just inside the penalty area but once again the ball fired off the crossbar.
Saints continued to probe in the second half and almost made it 2-0 minutes after the restart as Soyuncu was forced into a goal line clearance as Ryan Bertrand’s free kick picked out Jack Stephens on the volley. Just after the hour, Hasenhuttl’s men thought they had a penalty when Long was brought down in the box by Soyuncu, who was subsequently given a yellow card by Lee Mason. However, VAR intervened and 90 seconds after the initial decision; Long was deemed to be marginally in front of Soyuncu when the ball was played through and the ruling was reversed.
With 12 minutes left, Hasenhuttl made a double change bringing on Adams and Djenepo in hope of finding a winner and three minutes later, Southampton had their goal. Adams played a crucial part, receiving the ball from Nathan Redmond before perfectly guiding a pass into the path of the on-rushing Danny Ings, whose shot squeezed past the outstretched legs of Kasper Schmeichel. Ings ripped off his shirt in celebration as he raised his goal tally for the season to 16 goals in all competitions.
The drama held up right until the final minute as Jonny Evans headed the ball past McCarthy after Maddison’s free kick, only to be denied by another offside VAR decision. The Saints held on to continue their remarkable revival. Having picked up 17 points from a possible 27, they find themselves in a comfortable 12th position, 7 points clear of the relegation zone.
Ralph Hasenhuttl shared his post-match thoughts to Sky Sports:
We used it [the 9-0 defeat in the reverse fixture]. We showed the scenes. We didn’t want to have revenge, we wanted an answer for ourselves and to show how far we are compared to the first clash. We can see this is a completely different team. The belief is absolutely great and the way we play football with the right balance of taking risk and working against the ball.
Southampton will hope to continue their 6-match unbeaten run when they play host to Wolves next Saturday.