Southampton FC

Saints Sunk by Foxes: Southampton’s automatic promotion hopes dwindle

Southampton FC’s automatic promotion hopes dwindle

Leicester City firmly planted themselves on the cusp of a return to the Premier League with a dominant 5-0 thrashing of Southampton at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night. While the foxes stole the headlines with a clinical attacking display, the result leaves Russell Martin’s Saints side facing a significant setback in their promotion bid.

Southampton entered the contest needing a win to keep pace with fellow promotion contenders, Leicester, Leeds, and Ipswich. A victory would have put them back in contention with just 2 games remaining, however, Leicester, managed by Enzo Maresca, had other ideas. The foxes, once Premier League champions themselves, were relentless in their pursuit of a return to the topflight.

From the outset, the visitors struggled to contain the Leicester attack. The pace and movement of Stephy Mavididi and Janie Vardy caused constant problems for the Saints’ backline. Southampton’s normally dependable central defensive pairing of Jan Bednarek and Taylor Harwood-Bellis looked uncomfortable throughout the match.

The first blow for the Saints came in the 22nd minute, young winger, Abdul Fatawu found himself one on one with the goalkeeper, after a pinpoint pass from Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, which he delicately placed into the bottom corner to put Leicester 1-0 up. The goal did serve up as a wakeup call for Southampton, but they failed to respond effectively, with striker Che Adams largely isolated up front, the teams went in at half time at 1-0.

As the second half unfolded Leicester began to control possession and carve out opportunities. The visitors offered very little in response, and their hopes of getting back into the match were hindered again in the 62nd minute, after Nigerian midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi headed home from close range to put the foxes 2-0 up. This goal marked the beginning of a nightmare spell for Southampton.

Ten minutes later, Fatawu got his second of the night in fine fashion, cutting in from the ride hand side, he curled the ball with his left foot, past the keeper and Leicester were all 3-0 up. But they were not done there, in the 79th minute, Fatawu played a cross into the box, which saw veteran striker Jamie Vardy, confidently slide it home to confirm all three points go to Leicester. Two minutes later, Vardy returned the favour for Fatawu, assisting him for his hattrick, capping off a successful evening for the foxes.

This result leaves Southampton in 4th position, six points off Ipswich in 2nd, and with just two games remaining for the Saints, it seems like they will need to prepare for the Play-Offs, if they want any hope of returning to the Premier League. They are back at The St Mary’s stadium to welcome Stoke City in a big game this Saturday, and to cap it off, Southampton will travel to Elland Road, in what promises to be a tasty affair against Leeds, on the final day of the Championship season.

Leicester remains top of the Championship, on 94 points, needing just one win from two games, to confirm their return to the topflight of English football. They have a chance to do just that away to Preston North End on Monday the 29th, April. However, failing to win there means a big game on the final day of the season, when the Foxes hosts fellow Premier league winners, Blackburn Rovers.

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