Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl says his side “did not want revenge” for their 9-0 thrashing by Leicester City in October following the Saints’ surprise win at King Power Stadium.
Hasenhuttl’s men claimed a deserved win at the home of the second-placed Foxes courtesy of in-form striker Danny Ings’ late winner.
The Foxes, who were searching for a third successive Premier League win, took an early lead when Dennis Praet tapped in his first goal for the club.
But any thoughts of another easy victory for Brendan Rodgers’ side were quickly dispelled when Stuart Armstrong equalised with a deflected shot.
Ings, who has now scored 10 goals in his last 10 league starts, was a thorn in Leicester’s side all afternoon and having already struck the crossbar twice, he slotted through Kasper Schmeichel’s legs late on.
Leicester thought they had salvaged a draw with a 90th-minute equaliser from Jonny Evans but the video assistant referee (VAR) ruled it out for offside.
“We deserved to win it because we had so many chances. It was a fantastic team performance again,” said Hassenhuttl.
“If you concede the first goal against a team who has previously scored nine against you, you have to be very mentally strong to respond.
“But we left everything on the pitch and we were a little bit unlucky in the first half, so you could feel we had the potential to win the game at half-time.
“We didn’t want to have revenge, we wanted to show ourselves how far we’ve gone in our development.”
The victory sees Southampton remain 12th, but move level on points with Everton and Arsenal, while Leicester stay second but 12 points behind Liverpool, who play in the late kick-off.
The victory represents a remarkable turnaround from the previous result between the sides but it was nothing more than the visitors deserved having dominated in the first half and matched Leicester in the second.
But while the Saints shaded the chances, Leicester did have the ball in the net on another two occasions – through Jamie Vardy then Kelechi Iheanacho – but both efforts were disallowed for offside by the on-field officials.
Saints were also awarded a penalty in the second half when Caglar Soyuncu bundled Shane Long over in the box but VAR also overturned that decision.
Gutsy Saints earn deserved victory
Few could forget the last Premier League match between these two sides – when Leicester ran riot at St Mary’s to claim a record-breaking win.
But since that harrowing night, Hasenhuttl’s side have turned a corner – collecting 20 points from a possible 36.
That total is especially impressive when you take into account it includes wins over Chelsea, Tottenham and now Leicester.
The south coast side are now five games unbeaten in the league and on the evidence of this performance it is easy to see why; they were excellent from the first whistle, with Praet’s opener coming against the run of play.
So when they equalised when Armstrong’s strike found the net, albeit with a heavy deflection off James Maddison, it was not too much of a surprise.
They could have easily gone into the break ahead too, with Ings twice denied by the crossbar as half-time approached.
Leicester were a sterner test in the second half but Saints more than matched them and they would have had a penalty but for the intervention of VAR.
Ings and Long both worked tirelessly in attack, with the former deservedly getting on the scoresheet late on, but it was the defensive display which will have pleased Hasenhuttl most.
They limited the usually creative Foxes to just a few chances and when Saints did come under pressure, Alex McCarthy and Jack Stephens stood firm.
Lacklustre Foxes suffer with heavy schedule
Foxes boss Rodgers made just two changes to the side held by Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday and his side looked a little heavy-legged.
They were off the pace from the start and Praet’s tap-in from Vardy’s cross came from their first real chance.
And while they did improve in the second half, with Maddison dictating play with more composure, they were still unable to play with their usual flow.
They were also more open at the back than usual, too, with holding midfielder Hamza Choudhury unable to give his back four the same protection usually provided by the injured Wilfred Ndidi.
However, it’s perhaps unsurprising Leicester’s players looked a little lacklustre, given they played nine matches between 14 December and the match with Saints.
That is a hectic schedule even by the Premier League’s standards and means Rodgers is likely to be thankful for the eight-day break before they travel to Burnley on 19 January for their next match.
Man of the match – Danny Ings (Southampton)
‘It couldn’t have gone any better’ – what they said
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: “You could feel in every second of the game that we could win today. So to come back from behind one down with the history of the first game – it was so intense.
“It was a very important game for us this season to see how we play now – we have changed our mindset and worked to hard to play in a successful way. Watching this team is enjoyable at the moment.”
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers: “The performance probably didn’t merit anything from the game. The players kept going right to the end and kept fighting.
“We didn’t press the game strong enough, or well enough, and then when we had the ball, we made too many mistakes when we had the ball.
“So, it looked like up until the end, it was going to be a draw, which we would have taken because we didn’t play well. “However, they played through our midfield too easily and then they get in and get the goal, so a disappointing result for us.”
Southampton striker Danny Ings on BBC Match of the Day: “I am just happy to be scoring goals for the team. You saw today, the team do their best to provide the chances, they work so hard behind me I feel there is a little bit more pressure to put them away.
“After hitting the bar twice I thought maybe it wasn’t my day but we all stuck in there and I thought we deserved to win. How we have been over Christmas and since then has been massive for us and the club moving forward and long may it continue.
“It speaks for itself, the work we do on the pitch, we did everything we could at that time to turn it round [after the 9-0 defeat to Leicester], it couldn’t have gone any better than that. I’m so proud of us as a team and how far we have come.”
Ings’ hot streak continues – the stats
- Southampton have claimed three away Premier League victories in a row.
- Leicester have lost consecutive home Premier League games for the first time under Brendan Rodgers, having been defeated in just one of their first 14 matches at the King Power under him in the competition (W10 D3 L1).
- Southampton are the first side to concede 10+ goals against a specific opponent (Leicester City) in a single Premier League season since Everton did so against Arsenal in 2017-18 (10).
- Leicester City have scored the opening goal in 13 of their 22 Premier League games this season (W11 D0 L2) – only Manchester City (14), Chelsea (15) and Liverpool (16) have done so on more occasions in 2019-20.
- 40% of Danny Ings’ Premier League goals have been scored this season (14/35) – indeed, he is the highest-scoring player for the Saints in a single Premier League season since Jay Rodriguez in 2013-14 (15).
- Dennis Praet is the 14th different player to score a Premier League goal for Leicester this season, only Liverpool have had more (excluding own goals). Indeed, only in 2016-17 (16) have the Foxes had more different scorers in a season.
- Leicester’s Jamie Vardy has had a hand in 21 Premier League goals this season (17 goals, four assists) – two more than any other player.
- Stuart Armstrong’s equaliser was his fourth Premier League goal for Southampton and his first since December 2018 (against Manchester United), ending a run of 34 appearances in the competition without finding the net.
Next up for Southampton is a home Premier League game with Wolves on Saturday, 18 January (15:00 GMT), while Leicester travel to Burnley the following day (14:00).