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Southampton 1-0 Leicester: Carlos Alcaraz's first-half winner moves Saints off bottom of Premier League

Match report and free highlights as Southampton beat Leicester 1-0 at St Mary's to move off the bottom of the Premier League; January signing Carlos Alcaraz scores first-half winner minutes after James Ward-Prowse has penalty saved by Danny Ward; Saints one point behind 17th-placed Leeds

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights of Southampton's win over Leicester in the Premier League

Carlos Alcaraz's composed finish was the difference as Southampton earned a vital 1-0 win over Leicester at St Mary's to move off the bottom of the Premier League table.

January signing Alcaraz's first-half strike (35) came minutes after Danny Ward had saved a James Ward-Prowse penalty and it proved decisive on the south coast between two sides battling to avoid relegation.

Kelechi Iheanacho wasted three good chances before Harry Souttar hit the bar with a header seconds before the final whistle as Leicester failed to break down a determined Southampton, who picked up their first Premier League home victory since August.

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after giving Southampton the lead against Leicester
Image: Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after giving Southampton the lead against Leicester

The result sees Southampton climb above Bournemouth, who lost 3-2 at Arsenal earlier in the day, and move one point behind 17th-placed Leeds.

Leicester are 15th, three points above the drop zone after suffering their third consecutive league defeat.

Player ratings

Southampton: Bazunu (6), Maitland-Niles (7), Bednarek (7), Bella-Kotchap (7), Walker-Peters (7), Lavia (7), Alcaraz (7), Ward-Prowse (6), Walcott (7), Sulemana (6), Adams (7).

Subs: Elyounoussi (6), A Armstrong (6), Mara (6), S Armstrong (n/a).

Leicester: Ward (7), Pereira (6), Souttar (6), Faes (5), Castagne (6), Dewsbury-Hall (5), Mendy (6), Maddison (7), Tete (5), Barnes (5), Iheanacho (5).

Subs: Praet (6), Ndidi (6), Vardy (5).

Player of the match: Che Adams.

How Saints earned a crucial three points

Southampton went into this fixture winless in eight Premier League home games, a run of matches stretching all the way back to the visit of Chelsea to St Mary's in August.

Saints boss Ruben Selles made changes and his gamble, including a rare start for Theo Walcott, paid off as they moved off the foot of the table, albeit only on goal difference. It also provided a welcome lift after the shock midweek FA Cup loss to League Two side Grimsby.

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Southampton manager Ruben Selles made four changes from the side that lost 1-0 at Leeds in the Premier League last weekend.

Kyle Walker-Peters, Carlos Alcaraz, Theo Walcott and the returning Che Adams replaced Romain Perraud, Stuart Armstrong, Mohamed Elyounoussi and Paul Onuachu in the starting line-up.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers made three changes after last weekend's 1-0 loss at home to Arsenal.

James Maddison started after recovering from illness. Ricardo Pereira and Nampalys Mendy also came in. Dennis Praet, Victor Kristiansen and Wilfred Ndidi dropped out.

Walcott, named in the starting line-up for the first time since before the World Cup, had a half-chance early on after being picked out by Ainsley Maitland-Niles, but his final effort lacked power.

Leicester had a half-chance of their own in the 20th minute as Iheanacho got on the end of a James Maddison free-kick but was unable to direct his header goalwards.

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Leicester forward Kelechi Iheanacho headed wide from close range in the first half

The majority of the first half had been largely devoid of quality and chances but Southampton received a lifeline in the 30th minute when referee Robert Jones pointed to the penalty spot after Walcott's cross hit Timothy Castagne's hand.

However, Ward-Prowse had his spot-kick saved by Ward, who guessed the right way. The midfielder, known for his free-kick prowess, has missed both penalties he has taken this season for the Hampshire club.

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Danny Ward saved James Ward-Prowse's penalty minutes before Carlos Alcaraz gave Southampton the lead

Southampton picked themselves up immediately though and found the breakthrough in the 35th minute when the returning Che Adams played through Alcaraz, who raced clear of the Leicester defence before calmly slotting the ball past Ward. There was a lengthy VAR check for a potential offside on Adams, but the goal was allowed to stand.

Alcaraz, signed from Argentine side Racing Club in January, also appeared to injure himself during his celebratory slide and was eventually substituted in the 50th minute.

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Carlos Alcaraz scored the winning goal for Southampton in the 35th minute

Iheanacho had another headed opportunity fall to him in the first half after being picked out at the far post, but he could only guide the ball wide again.

Brendan Rodgers' men looked to drag themselves back into the game, dominating possession and chances. Another opportunity fell to Iheanacho after Gavin Bazunu's misplaced clearance, but the Leicester forward fired over.

The visitors had another opening with almost the final touch of the game as Bazunu failed to deal with a cross into the box, but defender Souttar could only head the ball over via the crossbar.

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Leicester defender Harry Souttar hit the bar seconds before the final whistle

Selles: Southampton are still alive

Southampton manager Ruben Selles speaking to Sky Sports: "The performance can always be better. We didn't have our best game but there are lots of positives we can take, especially three points.

"I saw a team working together, suffering together. We still need to work on some decisions, but we worked through the difficult moments.

"I will work on the performance to get it better for next week, but it was important to show the togetherness, to show that we are still alive and we are working as a group. We are learning together.

"We haven't had a great set of results this season. Facing Manchester United next week is a challenge, but we are going to prepare to win at Old Trafford.

"We need to continue to work and I expect us to be better in certain aspects, but we are going to go there and try to win the game."

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Ruben Selles believes Southampton's win over Leicester could be a turning point in his side's season

Rodgers: Leicester lacked clinical edge

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers speaking to Sky Sports: "I'm disappointed with the scoreline, but the performance was what we'd want, and I think the only disappointment was not taking the opportunities that we created. On another night we would maybe have had three or four goals.

"We started well, got into good areas. We just lacked the little bit of quality that can make the difference.

"We lost control for a small period but that period counts. It's very difficult to dominate a game for 90 minutes. We are disappointed with the goal, but the players regrouped. We told them to stay calm at half-time, work the ball into the right areas, and they did that. The opportunities that we created we just couldn't finish.

"We've shown we can score goals, but in the last few games we haven't created as much and haven't taken our chances. It is something we will continually work on. The players have the qualities to finish but sometimes you get games like that."

On the relegation battle, Rodgers said: "It's a challenge but if we continue to play like that, we'll get the points we need to stay up. But it is so tight, right up to mid-table. There is still a lot of football to play so we stay calm with it.

"It is my responsibility to get the team ready and to go again. We look to the next game now. We've got a great group of players who are very honest; they had the courage to take the ball and you could see that. If we can be clinical, we'll win more games."

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Brendan Rodgers was pleased with Leicester's performance at St Mary's and thinks similar displays will save his team from relegation

Ward-Prowse: A turning point in our season

Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse speaking to Sky Sports: "It's a huge result. It has been a tough couple of weeks with a few home truths. You saw a turning point in our season.

"I'd rather a free-kick [than a penalty], sometimes you score them, sometimes you don't. Fair play to the goalkeeper, but three points is better than any goal you can score.

"Midweek [the FA Cup defeat by Grimsby] was never near the standard we should be producing. It is a sign of a good group that we can turn it around."

Ward: We can get out of this mess

Leicester goalkeeper Danny Ward speaking to Sky Sports: "We've had a real lack of consistency in our games this year. Ultimately if you don't show that consistency and put the points on the board then you'll be at the wrong end of the table.

"Thankfully, we know we have the games there, the quality in the changing room and the characters available to get us out of this mess."

Analysis: Selles has Saints believing again

Sky Sports' Dan Sansom at St Mary's:

"The dressing room is good enough to stay in the Premier League. There's no doubt about it."

Ruben Selles gave a confident answer when asked about Southampton's chances of avoiding relegation ahead of Saturday's game against Leicester at St Mary's.

The 39-year-old Spaniard, who was taking charge of his fourth match since the departure of Nathan Jones, wanted a response to Wednesday's humiliating home defeat by Grimsby in the fifth round of the FA Cup. He got one.

It wasn't pretty, but Southampton dug deep and earned a vital three points to lift them off the bottom of the Premier League table. They also put an end to a dismal run of form at St Mary's, picking up their first home win in the league since August.

In Selles, Southampton appear to have a promising young manager who clearly has faith in his ability to turn the club's fortunes around. His intelligence and demeanour suggest he could be an astute appointment on the south coast.

His players are certainly responding to him so given he has been at the club all season, should he have been made manager earlier? Just 13 games remain and Southampton need more points quickly. This victory will give them huge belief but it doesn't get any easier. Up next, a trip to Manchester United.

Analysis: Maddison key to Leicester's hopes of survival

Sky Sports' Dan Sansom at St Mary's:

Leicester's hopes of staying clear of the relegation zone and enjoying a comfortable end to the season rest on James Maddison.

The 26-year-old's influence on the Foxes cannot be underestimated. They have taken just one point from a possible 18 without Maddison since the World Cup, so to see him return to the starting line-up against Southampton after recovering from illness was a huge boost for Brendan Rodgers.

Maddison could not prevent his side from suffering defeat on the south coast, but Rodgers described the midfielder's performance as "outstanding". The England international was a constant threat throughout and had his team-mates been able to finish one of the four chances he created, it could have been a very different story.

Maddison has been hampered by knee injuries since November, but Leicester will hope he is now primed to help lead them away from danger in the final few months of the season. Their top-flight status could depend on it.

Fantasy Premier League stats

FPL stats: Southampton 1-0 Leicester

Goals Alcaraz
Assists Adams
Bonus points Ward (3pts) | Bella-Kotchap (2pts) | Bednarek (1pt)

Opta stats: Saints beat Leicester again

  • Southampton have completed a league double over Leicester for the first time since 2007/08 in the Championship. It's their first double over the Foxes in the top flight since 1986/87.
  • Southampton have won three of their last seven Premier League matches (L4), as many as in their previous 24 combined.
  • Leicester have now failed to have a single shot on target in back-to-back Premier League games for the first time since gaining promotion back to the top flight in 2014.
  • Carlos Alcaraz is the fifth player to score in both of his first two Premier League starts for Southampton, after Ronnie Ekelund, Peter Crouch, Manolo Gabbiadini, and Armando Broja.
  • James Ward-Prowse featured in his 330th Premier League game for Southampton, surpassing Jason Dodd's record of 329 for the Saints.

What's next?

Southampton travel to in-form Manchester United in the Premier League next Sunday at 2pm before hosting Brentford on March 15 at 7.30pm.

Up next for Leicester is a Premier League home match against Chelsea next Saturday at 3pm. The Foxes then make the trip to Brentford on March 18, also at 3pm.

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