Friday, June 25, 2021

Saints forget Fonte fuss to beat Leicester


tiamin rice

Southampton’s English midfielder James Ward-Prowse (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Leicester City at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, southern England on January 22, 2017.

Southampton put the row over former captain Jose Fonte’s departure to one side as they beat struggling champions , 3-0 in the Premier League at St Mary’s on Sunday.

Fonte joined top-flight rivals West Ham in an £8 million ($9.9 million, 9.2 million euros) move on Friday, with the Portugal defender having been dropped by Southampton manager Claude Puel earlier this month after he handed in a transfer request.

But the Saints, no stranger to seeing their players leave for more lucrative offers at ‘bigger’ English clubs during the transfer window, shrugged off Fonte’s loss to end a run of four straight Premier League defeats in style.

For Leicester, this latest loss was their 11th in 22 league games so far this season and left them worryingly close to the relegation zone.

Southampton were 2-0 up before half-time thanks to goals from James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez.

The south coast side wrapped up just their seventh league win of the current campaign four minutes from time when Dusan Tadic scored from the penalty spot.

Victory was just the boost Southampton needed ahead of their League Cup semi-final second leg clash against Liverpool on Wednesday, with the Saints taking a 1-0 lead to Anfield.

Southampton made a bright start, with Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel making a good save to deny Nathan Redmond before Demarai Gray tested Fraser Forster at the other end.

But the goal the hosts had been threatening arrived in the 26th minute after a fluid attack.

Cedric Soares sped down the right and cut the ball back to Ward-Prowse, whose first-time curling shot just had enough power to beat the diving Schmeichel.

It was Ward-Prowse’s first goal in 22 games in all competitions for the club since he was on target against West Ham on September 25.

Ward-Prowse then turned provider as Southampton doubled their lead 13 minutes later.

Poor defending has been a feature of faltering champions Leicester’s play this season and another example came when Claudio Ranieri’s side failed to deal with Ward-Prowse’s free-kick into the box.

The ball skimmmed off Leicester centre-back Wes Morgan’s head and Rodriguez fired home from close range.

Southampton, who three days after their Liverpool clash face Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup, thought they had a third goal 15 minutes from time when Morgan, under pressure from Maya Yoshida, put Tadic’s free-kick into his own net.

But referee Michael Oliver, after consulting with his linesman, disallowed the ‘goal’ for a marginal offside decision.

Morgan, however, fell foul of the officials when he brought down Shane Long inside the box to concede a penalty, with Tadic firing the ensuing spot-kick high past Schmeichel and into the roof of the net.

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