Southampton’s push for a European spot was dealt a harsh blow as goals from James Maddison and Harvey Barnes saw Leicester go second.
The Saints travelled to the King Power stadium without a number of key players. Jannik Vestergaard, Oriol Romeu and Moussa Djenepo were out through injury, whilst Danny Ings was still self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week.
This meant Ibrahima Diallo and Jack Stephens kept their place in the starting 11 after strong performances last time out at Liverpool. Hassenhuttl also handed a rare start to youngster Will Smallbone on the left side of midfield.
First half frustration for Saints:
The Saints started the game the stronger side without creating too many clear-cut chances.
Both ‘keepers proved they were up to the task when faced with the games opening chances. Firstly, Alex McCarthy got down well to his right hand corner to parry away Harvey Banes finessed effort from the edge of the box. Minutes later Kasper Schmeichel was called in to action as he showed good reflexes to tip Che Adams’ close range effort round his left hand post.
The game looked to be heading in to half time goalless, before James Maddison expertly fired a powerful shot in to the roof of the net to give Leicester the lead. The attacking midfielder received Youri Tielemans pass on the edge of the Saints box before turning away from Jack Stephens and firing in from a tight angle.
As James Maddison opened the scoring at the King Power stadium, it would usually follow that his teammates would run over to embrace him in celebration. However, under new advice, players are being told to restrict the amount of physical contact when celebrating.
Leicester’s goalscorer took this advice quite literally. He was seen ushering his teammates away from him before mimicking a handshake and high-five from a Covid-compliant social distance. Is this a sign of what is to come?
Saints struggling for goals:
Despite a strong start to the season, Southampton’s lack of ruthless finishing has seen them drop towards mid-table. Alarmingly, the Saints have only registered a single goal in their last four Premier League games. That run was extended to five games here at Leicester as a plucky second half display was not rewarded with a goal.
The best chance of the half came the way of Scot Stuart Armstrong. He cut in on to his right foot and fired a powerful shot from long range which cannoned off Kasper Schmeichel’s crossbar. The Saints came within inches of an equaliser.
As the game entered the final stages and Southampton pushed for a way back in to the game, spaces started to open up for the ever-dangerous Leicester attackers.
In the fifth minute of injury time, Harvey Barnes was played through on goal by Youri Tielemans and the Leicester winger picked his spot and coolly slotted home to wrap up the three points.
The win moves Leicester up in to second, only a point behind leaders Manchester United. Southampton stay eighth in the Premier League but are still in with a shot of a European place come the end of the season.
Up next for the Saints is the rearranged FA cup third round tie against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night. The winner will face a tough game against Arsenal who look to be returning to form under boss Mikel Arteta.
Post match reactions:
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was keen to see the positives out of a hard fought game. He said:
“It’s never nice to lose a game but we had chances. We hit the bar, we fought with everything we have. We are definitely a team that is never giving up. The quality of the opponent was better than ours today.”
FT: Leicester 2-0 SOUTHAMPTON (Maddison 37′, Barnes 90+5′)
Leicester: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana (booked) (Soyuncu 53′), Evans, Justin, Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton (booked), Maddison (Perez 77′), Barnes, Vardy (Iheanacho 90+1). Unused subs: Ward, Amartey, Under, Pereira, Mendy, Thomas.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand (booked), Armstrong, Diallo (booked) (Valery 87′), Ward-Prowse, Smallbone (N’Lundulu 61′), Adams (Long 72′), Walcott. Unused Subs: Forster, Watts, Ferry, Vokins, Tchaptchet, Chauke.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester).
Referee: Stuart Attwell.