Leeds United 0-1 Southampton: Saints promoted back to the Premier League

Adam Armstrong fired Southampton back into the Premier League at the first time of asking following a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the Championship playoff final at Wembley Stadium. A £125m cash injection will now land in the Saints’ bank account between now and the commencement of the new Premier League campaign in August.

Meanwhile, another year in the second tier of English football lies ahead for Leeds United – with questions still to be answered if the likes of Crysencio Summerville, Georginio Rutter and Wilfried Gnonto et al will still be at the club ahead of next season.

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As it happened

Leeds flew out of the blocks in front of their sold-out allocation of close to 40,000 at Wembley Stadium, as the in-form figure of Gnonto let loose a grass-cutter straight at Alex McCarthy with his weaker left foot after seven minutes.

Will Smallbone’s free-kick was then confidently redirected around the post for a corner – that led to nothing – by Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier to conclude the goalmouth action across a back-and-forth introduction in the capital. However, Smallbone’s influence on the contest would be quintessential in the game’s opening goal after 24 minutes.

The dynamic midfielder’s defence-splitting pass allowed Adam Armstrong to confidently slot the ball into the far corner of the net for his 24th goal this season – though questions will be asked about the Leeds backline’s positioning.

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Helpless to prevent Southampton from breaking the deadlock, Meslier was able to prevent the Saints from potentially confirming their place in the Premier League with only one half of football played as he went on to deny Armstrong at the second time of asking with an instinctive outstretched one-handed save.

On course for a fourth successive play-off final loss at Wembley, Leeds manufactured a carbon copy of the opening half as Summerville fired inches wide of McCarthy’s far post almost immediately after the restart.

After coming on as a substitute in the first half for the injury-stricken David Brooks, Samuel Edozie spurned a gilt-edged opportunity to put the game to bed not long after the hour-mark as he misdirected his effort over the crossbar.

Agonisingly for Leeds, Dan James left the underside of the crossbar still shaking in the 84th minute as his thunderous strike beat McCarthy all ends up, but not the framework of the goal. James would then be denied by the Saints‘ keeper in the fourth of nine minutes added on in the conclusion in the capital.

Ultimately, that would be the final opportunity for Daniel Farke’s side as referee John Brooks’ final whistle confirmed Southampton’s immediate return to the Premier League.

The lineups

LEE: Meslier; Gray, Ampadu, Rodon, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto, Summerville, Rutter; Piroe

SOU: McCarthy; Harwood-Bellis, Stephens, Walker-Peters, Bednarek; Downes, Smallbone, Aribo; Brooks, Fraser, Armstrong


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