Southampton held on for a 1-1 draw at home despite going down to ten men against top-four hopefuls Leicester City at St Mary’s.
The Saints, hosting Leicester City for the first time since their 9-0 defeat at their home ground in October 2019, made three changes to the side which suffered defeat in London around ten days ago. Nathan Redmond, Takumi Minamino and Jack Stephens started, whilst Che Adams was leading the line in place of injury-prone Danny Ings.
Hoping to get revenge for their FA Cup Semi-Final, in which Southampton missed out on the Wembley final, the hosts started incredibly well. With just two minutes on the clock, Kyle Walker-Peters controlled a diagonal ball from Jannik Vestergaard, before placing a sweet finish past Leicester’s ‘keeper Kasper Schmeichel. The goal was ruled out for offside.
Minutes later, Saints were in again as Adams breached the Leicester defence to get into the penalty area and cut a ball inside to Nathan Tella, who had a free shot which he placed directly into Schmeichel’s arms.
On the ten minute mark, though, Hasenhuttl’s side managed to do what they have done often this season – ruin their own early momentum. Vestergaard was sent off for a challenge on Jamie Vardy, who was the last man through on goal. Whilst replays seemed to show the Dane getting the ball, VAR did not overturn the decision and the hosts were facing the prospect of playing with ten men for eighty minutes. Mohamed Salisu came on in place of Tella in order to solidify their defence after a brief scare, coming from a James Maddison free-kick.
With a respectful break in play to allow for Foxes defender Wesley Fofana to break his fast, which he was doing during this month of Ramadan, the Frenchman’s team were very much in the ascendency. Shots from Youri Tielemans and Maddison put pressure on the strained Southampton defence, who managed to hold on.
In the remainder of the first half, Southampton withstood the onslaught from the visitors and went in at 0-0 at the break.
The balanced start to the second half got even more interesting when Southampton were awarded a penalty for a handball against in-form Iheanacho. The penalty was well dispatched by Saints’ set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse.
Iheanacho did, moments later, make up for this though as he provided the assist for the equaliser. The Nigerian played the ball into the area where Jonny Evans found space to send the ball into the back of the net.
Leicester had a flurry of late chances fall to them in the final 20 minutes or so, most of which fell to Jamie Vardy who couldn’t quite get the better of Saints ‘keeper Alex McCarthy.
In the end, the visitors looked a shadow of the side who came here 18 months or so ago and tore the hosts to shreds. Could it be a repeat of last season for Leicester, who missed out on Champions League football courtesy of a dip in form at the end of the season?
Southampton need three points from their final five games to guarantee Premier League football next season, and the hunt for those points begins at Anfield on Saturday night as they take on Liverpool.
FT: SOUTHAMPTON 1-1 Leicester City (Ward-Prowse 61′ (pen)) (Evans 68′)
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestergaard (sent off), Stephens, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Tella (Salisu 15′), Redmond, Minamino (booked) (Diallo 76′), Adams (N’Lundulu 90’+1′). Unused Subs: Forster, Djenepo, Ramsay, Walcott, Ferry, Jankewitz.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Castagne, Fofana (Perez 45′), Soyuncu, Evans, Thomas (Albrighton 69′), Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison, Iheanacho, Vardy. Unused Subs: Ward, Amartey, Under, Choudhury, Pereira, Mendy, Praet.
Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Kyle Walker-Peters (Southampton)
Referee: Robert Jones