Needing to score maximum points in their final three games to stand with a chance of survival, Southampton welcomed Fulham to St Mary’s on Saturday – with the Londoners looking to solidify a top half finish.
SOU: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Lyanco, Maitland-Niles, Ward-Prowse, Lavia, Walcott, Alcaraz, Armstrong, Onuachu
FUL: Leno, Tete, Tosin, Diop, Robinson, Palhinha, Reed, Willian, Cairney, Wilson, Vinicius
The visitors started the game as the stronger of the two sides, controlling a lot of the ball – but bar a few stray deliveries into the box, they failed to test Alex McCarthy.
Southampton’s best chance of the half came via Paul Onuachu, who struck a tame effort towards the Fulham goal which was easily collected by Bernd Leno.
A game of few chances still had drama though, when Carlos Vinicius’s header appeared to strike Lyanco on the arm. Despite appeals from the Fulham players, staff and fans, Thomas Bramall waved away appeals.
Fulham continued to control the game and were almost rewarded just before half time. Harry Wilson’s pass down the right found the path of Harrison Reed, and his delivery reached Willian whose volley was cleared off the line by Lyanco.
Southampton thought they’d taken the lead in the early stages of the second half when Alcaraz slotted the ball past Leno – unfortunately for the Argentine, the flag was immediately shown for offside.
That would prove costly for the Saints though, as Fulham immediately went up the pitch and broke the deadlock through Carlos Vinicius. Tom Cairney started the move with a cross-field pass to Harry Wilson, and the Welshman tried to find Harrison Reed – whose sliding tackle diverted the ball towards the Brazilian, who then slotted into an empty net.
Ruben Selles’ side had nothing to lose and did try to get back into the game via Onuachu, but his looping header flew over the bar. Fulham put the final nail in the coffin with just under 20 minutes to go via Aleksandar Mitrovic, who returned to the Fulham side today following an eight game suspension which he served after an incident with referee Christopher Kavanagh in March. Wilson was once again involved with a delivery into the box, but it was the Serbian who dived in and placed his header into the bottom left corner to get his first league goal since New Years Day.
The result cemented Southampton’s relegation to the Championship following an eleven year spell in the top flight – and they’ll look to restore some pride when they face Brighton & Hove Albion next week.
Fulham reached a record fifteen Premier League wins and are now one win away from breaking their record points total for a Premier League campaign (53). They welcome fellow London side Crystal Palace to Craven Cottage next weekend.