Adams at the double as Saints clinch first win


Leicester-born Ché Adams arrived off the bench to score twice against his hometown club, as Southampton overturned a one-goal deficit in dramatic fashion at King Power Stadium.

Trailing to James Maddison’s second-half free-kick, Adams was introduced on the hour and soon made his mark, side-footing home the equaliser on 68 minutes.

The striker was not finished there, as Saints took the initiative in the game and got their rewards six minutes from time, when Adams brilliantly volleyed the winner in front of the travelling fans.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made three changes to his starting line-up, including a first Premier League start for Sékou Mara, as the 20-year-old spearheaded the Saints attack.

The Frenchman was one of three game-changing substitutes rewarded for his impact off the bench against Leeds, as Joe Aribo, who scored, and Adam Armstrong, who assisted him, were also recalled.

With Jan Bednarek, Stuart Armstrong and Adams the men sacrificed, Saints lined up with a four-man defence and a three-pronged attack, with Mara flanked by Aribo and Armstrong.

It did not take long for the home fans to become restless, as Jamie Vardy claimed a penalty after clashing with Armel Bella-Kotchap, but replays suggested the veteran striker initiated the contact himself.

Mara’s first contribution was a surging run down the right when he was clearly upended by Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, only for referee Michael Salisbury to award a corner instead of a free-kick and what surely would have been a yellow card for the Leicester man.

Hasenhüttl would have been quite happy with Saints’ steady start, with the Foxes restricted to very little goalmouth action.

When the visitors did spring forward, they did so with purpose when Mohamed Elyounoussi released Mara, whose pace took him away from the Leicester backline, before he finished impressively, curling the ball inside the far post, only to be flagged offside.

Gavin Bazunu was largely untroubled throughout the first half, but was called upon to beat away Maddison’s swirling free-kick, before Harvey Barnes sent the goalkeeper stooping to his left with a low shot he dragged past the post.

It had been an uninspiring spectacle for the most part, though Hasenhüttl would have been pleased with his side’s defensive stability until Maddison found the breakthrough nine minutes into the second period.

It was a disheartening way to concede, as in the end Maddison’s shot found a way around the wall, which left a gap wide enough to catch out Bazunu at his near post.

Saints’ response to falling behind was encouraging. Hasenhüttl soon opted to introduce Adams for Mara, before a succession of corners saw Bella-Kotchap connect with one that was half-blocked and then hacked clear by Vardy.

Ultimately, the visitors would be behind for only 14 minutes, as Mohammed Salisu launched a throw into the box that was tidily laid off by Bella-Kotchap for Adams, whose first-time shot found the net via a deflection, but was certainly his goal.

Suddenly Hasenhüttl’s side were in the driving seat, dominating the game and having plenty of joy down the right flank through Kyle Walker-Peters.

It was down that side that the winner arrived with six minutes left, as Walker-Peters laid the ball back for James Ward-Prowse to deliver a first-time cross fractionally behind the substitute, who adjusted superbly to acrobatically volley the ball into the bottom corner and seal Saints’ first victory of the season.

There was still time for the two-goal hero to go agonisingly close to his first Premier League hat-trick, hitting the post deep into stoppage time, as Saints avoided a late onslaught from an out-of-sorts home team.