Super Egles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi pulled one back, but he could not help the Foxes to a victory as Southampton defeated Leicester City 2-1 away from home at the King Power Stadium, after Ward-Prowse and Shane Long had scored first half goals in the Premier League encounter on Saturday.
Ten-man Southampton produced a fine second-half rearguard display to beat Leicester City 2-1 and move out of the Premier League’s relegation zone. Nampalys Mendy’s clumsy foul on Shane Long allowed James Ward-Prowse to drill home the opener from the penalty spot in the 11th minute, ending a run of four league visits to the King Power Stadium without a goal four Southampton.
Yan Valery was sent off shortly before Long double the lead in first-half injury-time, but a much-improved Leicester halved the arrears through Wilfred Ndidi just before the hour. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side faced relentless pressure from thereon in, but Southampton held firm for a crucial three points – their first away top-flight win at Leicester since 2001 – that lifted them out of the bottom three.
Leicester, dumped out of the FA Cup by fourth-tier Newport County last week, remain seventh. Stuart Armstrong had threatened twice by the time Ward-Prowse thumped a penalty high and left of Kasper Schmeichel after Mendy recklessly dragged Long to ground. Leicester were all at sea but nearly levelled when James Maddison’s free-kick fell for Wes Morgan, who was denied on the line by Jan Bednarek.
Saints saw Valery receive a second yellow for a needless pull on Marc Albrighton, but they were 2-0 up by the break. Ricardo Pereira failed to deal with Alex McCarthy’s punt and Long outmuscled Mendy on the left of the box before curling past Schmeichel. Leicester unsurprisingly had more verve after the break and Ndidi knew little about his effort off the knee from Pereira’s cross but it was a lifeline nonetheless.
Unsurprisingly it was one-way traffic from there and Jamie Vardy should have done better to direct Maddison’s cross goalwards from eight yards. Harvey Barnes and Maddison each tried their luck from range and Ndidi nodded wide from close range as Leicester pushed for a late leveller, but there was too much predictability about their play as Southampton returned to the south coast with a welcome win.
What does it mean? Saints taking shape under Hasenhuttl
Saints’ initial upturn in fortunes under Hasenhuttl stuttered with a four-match winless streak in all competitions before this fixture, but there were plenty of encouraging signs here. The team pressed, harried and transitioned to attack well, while defensively they were solid following Valery’s red. The threat of relegation obviously still looms, but on this evidence, it is a battle they can certainly win.
Long stakes his claim as Redmond impresses
Hasenhuttl this week spoke of his desire for a new striker and allowed Manolo Gabbiadini to re-join Sampdoria, but Long – making his first league start since November 4 – did his chances of regular minutes no harm, cleverly winning the spot-kick and taking his goal well. Nathan Redmond also deserves credit. The winger can be a mercurial talent, but was a constant livewire with his pace and direct running on the break.
Mendy’s moments of madness prove costly
There were several under-par first-half performances from Leicester, with Ben Chilwell not his usual reliable self at full-back. But it really was a day to forget for Mendy, who gave away the penalty and allowed himself to be beaten far too easily for Long’s effort. He was unsurprisingly hauled off at the break as part of a double change from ex-Saints boss Claude Puel, which included an outing for the recalled Barnes.
The Foxes will look to bounce back when they make the trip from east to west Midlands to face Wolves next Saturday, while a rejuvenated Southampton welcome Everton the St Mary’s Stadium.