The EFL Championship weekend kicked off at St. Mary’s, as two sides relegated from the Premier League went head-to-head. Russell Martin and Southampton were in desperate need for a win following four straight defeats throughout September, while Daniel Farke’s Leeds arrived on the South Coast looking for a third win in four league games.
SOU: Bazunu; Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Manning; Downes, Alcaraz, Smallbone; S. Armstrong, Sulemana, A. Armstrong
LEE: Meslier; Shackleton, Struijk, Cooper, Byram; Ampadu, Kamara; James, Piroe, Summerville; Rutter
A cloudy afternoon on the South Coast started out perfectly for the home side, as from a Leeds counter attack, Gavin Bazunu’s clearance found Kyle Walker-Peters down the right hand side. The right-back then sent Adam Armstrong through on goal and lobbed the ball beautifully over Illan Meslier to put the Saints in front with just two minutes gone.Embed from Getty Images
Russell Martin’s side had started the brighter, even if Armstrong hadn’t have scored so early, but Leeds would almost find an equaliser as Georginio Rutter fired an effort towards the top corner. Bazunu was alert though, and pulled off a wonderful save to keep his side in front.
While Daniel Farke’s men had grown into this contest, it was the Saints who would double their advantage 15 minutes before half-time. Kamaldeen Sulemana made a blistering run down the left hand side, and sent the ball into the box. The ball landed at the feet of Will Smallbone, who fired home off the post – his side’s second goal of the afternoon, and in truth, it was no more than Russell Martin’s men had deserved.
It got even better for Southampton just five minutes later, as Sulemana received the ball from Carlos Alcaraz down the left hand side and made another brilliant run towards the box. The Ghanian would then deliver the ball wonderfully, again, into the box and Adam Armstrong smashed home his second – and his side’s third – of the afternoon. However, following a very heavy deflection off Pascal Struijk, the third goal was credited as an own goal by the Leeds centre-back.Embed from Getty Images
Southampton could have had a fourth before the break, as Kyle Walker-Peters’ cross found Carlos Alcaraz at the far post, but his header was saved well by Illan Meslier.
Leeds came out in the second half and looked to respond through Joel Piroe, but Summerville’s cross into the box was headed away by England U21 international Taylor Harwood-Bellis before the former Swansea frontman could get to it.
With just over half an hour to go, Leeds did pull a goal back. The corner kick was swept in from the right hand side by Crysencio Summerville, and following Ethan Ampadu’s flick on from the edge of the box, Pascal Struijk atoned for his first half own goal by smashing home past Bazunu to give Daniel Farke’s side a lifeline.
The away side had dominated the second half and did look a far cry from their poor first half performance, but Southampton weathered the storm and Russell Martin’s side deservedly picked up all three points, capping off a miserable September for the Saints with a big win.
In terms of what’s next for both sides, Southampton travel to Alex Neil’s Stoke City on Tuesday at 8pm, while Leeds head back to Elland Road to face QPR the following night at 7:45pm.