Southampton off the mark as sorry Leeds slip towards bottom three

Date published: Saturday 16th October 2021 4:58 - Neil Foster

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Armando Broja scored on his first Premier League start as Southampton outclassed lacklustre Leeds to earn their first league victory of the season with a 1-0 triumph at St Mary’s.

Saints were worth winners as they bossed proceedings for the majority of the game. Leeds huffed and puffed, defending well, but lacked a cutting edge going forward.

Ralph Hasenhuttl made five changes from the side that lost to Chelsea before the international break. Kyle Walker-Peters, Theo Walcott, Nathan Tella and Adam Armstrong were benched while James Ward-Prowse was suspended.

Romain Perraud, Moussa Djenepo, Broja, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Ibrahima Diallo were all handed a start. Leeds chief Marcelo Bielsa made three changes from their victory against Watford last time out.

Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha were not in the squad. England midfielder Phillips is still recovering from a calf injury while Raphinha was not ready after playing for Brazil just 36 hours earlier.

Left-back Junior Firpo also missed out on a start, with Tyler Roberts, winger Jack Harrison and defender Pascal Struijk coming in. Saints went into the match as one of four teams yet to win a top-flight game this term.

Leeds had only one win to their name and it was a cautious start by both teams. The hosts were the more positive early on as Leeds struggled to string much together.

Nathan Redmond attempted the first shot of the match on 13 minutes but dragged his effort wide of the post. Six minutes later the same player tried his luck from distance once again, this time forcing Illan Meslier into a decent save.

From the resulting corner, Tino Livramento’s header just evaded the onrushing Elyounoussi at the back post with the goal at his mercy. Saints continued to pile on the pressure as the visitors struggled to get out of their own half.

The lively Redmond beat three players before picking out Oriol Romeu on 26 minutes but the Spaniard’s rasping shot was blocked. Although the home side were in control, the Leeds defence restricted Southampton to shots from distance.

Rare chance for Leeds

Just after the half-hour mark, the Whites enjoyed a rare foray into the opposition half. But Diallo was well placed to block snuff out Mateusz Klich’s effort.

Saints then almost broke the deadlock after a mistake by Struijk. The Dutchman failed to control the ball, allowing Elyounoussi through on goal.

His shot was well saved by Meslier before Struijk appeared to foul Moussa Djenepo – the referee thought different. As the half drew to a close, Bielsa’s charges enjoyed their first chance of the match.

However, Tyler Roberts’ effort flew wide of Alex McCarthy. Southampton had 12 attempts to Leeds solitary strike during the first 45 minutes but could not find the net.

Leeds were livelier early in the second period with Jack Harrison’s effort blocked by Diallo. But it only was a temporary respite as Saints took the lead on 52 minutes through Broja.

Djenepo found Redmond with a superb ball and his cross allowed the Albanian to finish superbly past Meslier. It was no more than Hasenhuttl’s men deserved after controlling the game.

At just 20 years and 36 days, Broja became the youngest player to score on his first Premier League start for Saints. Leeds response was almost immediate as Harrison’s cross forced McCarthy to fumble before Livramento cleared.

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Daniel James then fired wide of the target with McCarthy racing out to narrow the angle as Leeds enjoyed a decent period.

But Southampton were soon back in control, with Broja looking for a second. However, his effort flew well wide of the target.

Bielsa brought on teenage forward Joe Gelhardt for midfielder Mateusz Klich on 77 minutes as Leeds looked for an equaliser. But they could not find it as Saints saw out the match to move above the Yorkshire club in the table.

Leeds were missing two of their best players but Bielsa will be worried by their lack of creativity.

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