Saints suffer final-day defeat


Leicester turned on the style in the second half as Southampton were well beaten on the final day of the Premier League season at the King Power Stadium.

All of the goals came after the interval, as James Maddison broke the deadlock four minutes into the second period, before Jamie Vardy doubled the lead 16 minutes from time.

Saints gave themselves hope through James Ward-Prowse’s tenth Premier League goal of the campaign, as the skipper rifled home from the penalty spot to halve the deficit on 79 minutes.

That hope proved to be short-lived when Ayoze Pérez instantly restored Leicester’s two-goal cushion, before the substitute completed the scoring deep into stoppage time.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made three changes to his side, as Oriol Romeu reclaimed his place in midfield, along with Stuart and Adam Armstrong, who benefited from the absence of Armando Broja – not among the substitutes as his season-long loan from Chelsea drew to a close.

Leicester’s Achilles’ heel this season has been their tendency to concede goals from set-pieces; 19, to be precise, the most in the Premier League.

So it was encouraging for Saints to win two corners inside the first five minutes, but it was the hosts who were first to threaten an opening goal.

From a corner of their own that was only half cleared, Maddison dropped a shoulder and fizzed in a left-footed cross that was headed over by Timothy Castagne from six yards. The defender should really have hit the target, but the pace on the ball did make the chance more difficult.

There was another moment of alarm when Alex McCarthy was nearly caught in possession by Vardy, typically full of energy, but the goalkeeper just cleared his lines in the nick of time.

An intriguing subplot of a subdued first half was the ongoing battle between Vardy and Lyanco, as the striker went down in the box after the pair clipped heels, before the Brazilian strode across to the touchline to dispossess his man cleanly, with impressive authority.

Vardy did escape Lyanco’s watchful eye when he peeled away to meet a Castagne cross, but he just could not stretch enough to direct the ball on target.

The defender may have held his own in the first half, but it was his error four minutes into the second period that gifted Leicester the opening goal.

It was an innocuous long ball forward that was misjudged by Lyanco, who then left his header back to McCarthy short, allowing Vardy to nip in.

Whilst the goalkeeper stood up to deny the master marksman, he was powerless to prevent Maddison rolling in the rebound.

Saints were unhappy with the fact that they were in possession when the game was stopped for Vardy to receive treatment following a clash with Romeu, but when the action resumed the ball was returned to Kasper Schmeichel, whose subsequent clearance created the goal.

Rightly or wrongly, Saints were behind, but their attempts to spark a revival were delayed by a nasty head collision between Adam Armstrong and Jonny Evans, eventually leading to Armstrong’s withdrawal and the introduction of Leicester-born Ché Adams.

When the game restarted several minutes later, Nathan Redmond met Mohamed Elyounoussi’s left-wing cross with a firm header, but he was too far out to realistically trouble Schmeichel.

Elyounoussi produced another delivery from wide soon after, but this time it was fractionally behind Adams, who could not crane his neck sufficiently to divert the ball on target.

At the other end, Vardy was still goal hunting, sending one low shot into McCarthy’s grateful grasp before getting the better of Jack Stephens in the box, only for Lyanco to slide in and halt him in his tracks just as the striker was primed to shoot.

Vardy was not to be denied, as he finally got his name on the scoresheet 16 minutes from time.

Latching on to Harvey Barnes’s pass, he surged clear of the defence with that trademark turn of pace, then jinked inside the retreating Lyanco and tucked the ball neatly inside McCarthy’s near post.

It was the first of three goals in seven minutes in the East Midlands, as Stuart Armstrong’s quick feet in the box won a penalty ruthlessly dispatched by Ward-Prowse, who smashed the ball into his favoured corner, to Schmeichel’s right.

But Saints’ hopes of a late revival were immediately extinguished by the hosts, as substitute Pérez slid in at the far post to convert Maddison’s teasing cross and inflict the decisive blow.

Hasenhüttl’s men kept pushing, but Ward-Prowse sent a free-kick over the bar before Kyle Walker-Peters was denied by a fine save from Schmeichel, though the marauding defender was ruled offside in any case.

There were cameo roles off the bench for Moussa Djenepo, Shane Long and Will Smallbone, with Armstrong’s earlier substitution enforced due to concussion, but it was Pérez who had the final say, rifling home Ricardo Pereira’s cutback to complete the scoring.