Saints fall to three second-half goals


Southampton were beaten by Leeds in the first meeting between the clubs in nine years.

Patrick Bamford opened the scoring two minutes into the second half after a first period in which Saints were again left frustrated by key decisions.

Referee Andre Marriner awarded the visitors a penalty for a foul on Nathan Tella, making his first Premier League start, only to reverse his decision after consulting the pitchside monitor.

Then the official ruled out a Ché Adams strike from a quick set-piece, but after Bamford broke the deadlock, Stuart Dallas doubled Leeds’ advantage and Raphinha wrapped up the points with a late free-kick.

Ralph Hasenhüttl gave a rest to attacking trio Danny Ings, Takumi Minamino and Moussa Djenepo, with his team in action for the second time in four days and playing their 14th game since Christmas.

That meant a chance to impress for Tella, who started wide on the left; Adams, who partnered Nathan Redmond up front; and Stuart Armstrong, who returned from injury to take his usual starting berth on the right.

On a difficult pitch that had both sides losing their footing, Saints started well. Adams won an early free-kick to the right of the penalty area, from which James Ward-Prowse perfectly picked out Jannik Vestergaard, who was frustrated not to work Illan Meslier from 10 yards.

Then Tella showed his confidence to burst straight through the middle of the Leeds defence, but his eventual shot was too close to the young French keeper.

Leeds have earned plaudits for the entertainment they’ve served up on their return to the top flight, with their first 24 Premier League matches producing 83 goals – 40 scored, 43 conceded.

But Saints comfortably contained their hosts until the midpoint in the first half, when right-winger Raphinha began to influence the game.

Dribbling past Mohammed Salisu, the Brazilian laid the ball on a plate for Tyler Roberts, only for the Welshman to shoot wildly over.

Then a Raphinha free-kick was headed back across the box by Diego Llorente and hooked goalwards by captain Liam Cooper, who forced a first save from Alex McCarthy.

But rather than Raphinha being the difference-maker, it was Tella’s twinkle toes that looked to have given Saints a golden chance to take the lead 10 minutes before the interval.

Squaring up Llorente in the box, the youngster bamboozled the defender with a stepover and sharp change of direction, before he was tripped by his victim’s standing leg.

Referee Marriner duly pointed to the spot, but was subsequently sent to look at the pitchside monitor, which must have convinced the official Tella had instigated the contact, and the decision was overturned.

If that was not frustrating enough for Hasenhüttl, his team looked certain to fall behind when Leeds launched a quick counter-attack from a Saints free-kick, as Dallas sent Raphinha clean through on goal.

It seemed a straightforward duel between attacker and goalkeeper, but Oriol Romeu somehow got back in time to throw himself to ground and make a heroic last-ditch intervention, the like of which wouldn’t look out of place in the highlights of Saints’ Kelvin Davis-inspired victory at Elland Road in the last league meeting between the clubs.

Hasenhüttl must be feeling like his team are due a decision in their favour, but Marriner was not about to oblige in another moment of controversy shortly before half-time.

When Saints were awarded a free-kick just inside the Leeds half, Ward-Prowse spotted the run of Adams and caught Leeds cold as the striker finished off a smart set-piece.

The referee’s whistle had sounded, but not – in the view of the man in the middle – before the kick was taken, and Leeds survived another scare.

There was plenty of encouragement for Saints, who created the first chance of the second period when Adams set up Redmond, whose shot was gathered at the second attempt by Meslier.

But Leeds went straight up the other end to steal the lead, as Roberts fed Bamford through the middle of the pitch, who allowed the ball to roll into his path and scored with a precise low shot just inside McCarthy’s far post.

Suddenly the home team were full of confidence, as Raphinha set up Roberts to fire wide, before Dallas tiptoed into the box and offered Bamford an easier chance than the one he scored, but McCarthy was equal to it.

Ten minutes after falling behind, Hasenhüttl called for reinforcements in the shape of Ings and Minamino, as Redmond and Tella were sacrificed.

But still it was Leeds looking the more likely scorers, as Raphinha was again denied an assist when another enticing cutback picked out a teammate, this time Llorente, who was thwarted by McCarthy’s outstretched foot at close range.

Bamford’s goal continued to separate the sides, and the striker was influential again in his own box to deny an equaliser from Vestergaard, whose header from a Ward-Prowse corner was cleared off the line by the Leeds No 9.

Saints were dealt another blow 20 minutes from time when Romeu hobbled off injured, prompting Djenepo to take his place and Armstrong to move inside.

The visitors were running out of time, but beginning to force Leeds back, as Ward-Prowse and Ings both tried their luck from distance to no avail.

But it was Dallas who took the game away from Saints, taking a pass from Helder Costa in his stride and steering the ball into the corner from 16 yards.

Raphinha then made it three from a 25-yard free-kick, before Costa blazed over as Leeds finished strongly.