Saints suffer Leicester defeat

By SFC Media time Wed 13 Dec Saints v Leicester
Photo by Matt Watson
Wed 13 Dec 7.45PM
Premier League
Leicester City
Yoshida [61']
Mahrez [11'] Okazaki [32' 69'] King [38']
Austin (52')
yellow card
Referee: Chris Kavanagh | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 27,714

Southampton endured a night to forget under the lights at St Mary’s as Leicester City ran out 4-1 winners.

Saints found themselves 3-0 down at the interval with a mountain to climb, as goals from Riyad Mahrez, Shinji Okazaki and Andy King put the visitors in control.

Maya Yoshida pulled one back before Kasper Schmeichel pulled off a miraculous save from Charlie Austin to prevent Saints reducing the arrears to 3-2.

With the hosts pushing for an equaliser, they were exposed on the counter-attack as Okazaki scored his second from an incisive breakaway.

Mauricio Pellegrino made four changes to his side, who were in Premier League action for the second time in four days at St Mary’s following the 1-1 draw with Arsenal.

Cédric returned from injury to take his place in the back four, while Mario Lemina, Steven Davis and Sofiane Boufal earned recalls to the starting XI.

Jack Stephens, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, James Ward-Prowse and Nathan Redmond all dropped to the bench after starting against the Gunners.

With Austin’s third-minute opener still fresh in the memory, Saints again started quickly, forcing two corners in the first 90 seconds.

Leicester soon threatened to catch Pellegrino’s men on the counter-attack, only for Jamie Vardy’s low cross to skid beyond the advancing Okazaki as the rain pelted down.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Southampton's Mario Lemina clears off the line during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary's Stadium on December 13, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Mario Lemina clears off the line to deny Shinji Okazaki

It was a first glimpse of the threat posed by Claude Puel’s side, who edged in front in the 11th minute, as Mahrez, starting on the right flank, was afforded too much space.

Drifting infield, the Algerian ran at the Saints defence until he was in shooting territory, and duly unleashed a low left-footed drive across Fraser Forster that nestled just inside the far post.

Mahrez was at it again when he played a one-two and surged into the box to test out the returning Cédric, who proved up to the task with a last-ditch tackle, before Forster made a diving save to keep out Okazaki.

A positive Saints start had given way to a period of Leicester pressure, which continued as Okazaki seized on a loose ball in the box and beat Forster with a low toe-poke that needed the presence of Lemina on the line to clear and deny the visitors a second.

Saints did spring into life on the half-hour when Davis and Boufal combined to find Austin, who stung the slippery palms of Schmeichel with an explosive shot from 20 yards.

But when Schmeichel claimed the resulting corner, the keeper drilled a brilliant low clearance into the path of Vardy, who found Mahrez on the left.

When the goalscorer instantly returned the favour with a low cross to the near post, it would take a reflex save from Forster to deny his England colleague.

It would prove only a brief reprieve, as Mahrez’s corner was met on the volley by Christian Fuchs, sparking pinball in the Saints box from which Okazaki reacted quickest to poke home Leicester’s second.

Two became three just six minutes later, as the first half turned into a nightmare for the hosts.

Another Mahrez set-piece set the wheels in motion, this time finding Harry Maguire, who kept the ball alive and fizzed in a low cross from the byeline touched in by King at the far post.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Southampton's Charlie Austin is denied by Kasper Schmeichel during the Premier League match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary's Stadium on December 13, 2017 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Charlie Austin was denied a fifth goal in as many games

Pellegrino’s response at the interval was to throw on another striker in Manolo Gabbiadini, sacrificing Oriol Romeu in a bid to stage a dramatic comeback.

But it was Leicester who resumed on the front foot, as Mahrez forced Forster to parry a 25-yard free kick, before the goalkeeper made an unorthodox save by kicking away Maguire’s low shot from a standing position.

Saints did keep Schmeichel on his toes with a Ryan Bertrand free kick that was tipped over, leading to a Bertrand corner met by Yoshida, who headed the ball back where it came from to find the bottom corner as Dušan Tadić tried to claim the final touch.

Enter Redmond for Boufal, who was instantly involved with a pass down the line for the marauding Bertrand, whose cross looked certain to be finished by the sliding Austin, only for Schmeichel to pull off a miraculous save.

It would prove a big moment. Instead of reducing the deficit to a single goal with a quarter of the game to go, Saints soon found themselves 4-1 down.

The Foxes were sharp on the break all night, and used their pace to destructive effect again when Mahrez fed Vardy, whose low cross was dispatched by Okazaki for his second of the night.

It was a goal that knocked the stuffing out of Southampton, who kept plugging away but knew the game was up.

Tonight's Match Sponsor: Waltet

Head to Head Stats

Leicester City
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Fraser Forster (GK)
Virgil van Dijk
Ryan Bertrand
Cédric Soares
Maya Yoshida goal
Sofiane Boufal
replace Nathan Redmond (62′)
Steven Davis (C)
Mario Lemina
Dusan Tadic
replace James Ward-Prowse (83′)
Oriol Romeu
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (45′)
Charlie Austin yellow card
Nathan Redmond
Jack Stephens
James Ward-Prowse
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg
Shane Long
Alex McCarthy
Manolo Gabbiadini

Leicester City

Kasper Schmeichel (GK)
Wes Morgan (C)
Harry Maguire
Christian Fuchs
Danny Simpson
Ben Chilwell
replace Leonardo Ulloa (83′)
Shinji Okazaki goal goal
Andy King goal
Riyad Mahrez goal
replace Marc Albrighton (72′)
Wilfred Ndidi
Jamie Vardy
replace Demarai Gray (72′)
Demarai Gray
Leonardo Ulloa
Aleksandar Dragovic
Ben Hamer
Vicente Iborra
Daniel Amartey
Marc Albrighton
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