Southampton 2-2 Leeds: Under-fire Ralph Hasenhuttl earns a reprieve as the Saints come from two down to earn a point thanks to a late Kyle Walker-Peters goal after Rodrigo’s brace
- Southampton fight back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in St Mary’s thriller
- Brazilian star Rodrigo scored twice to put the visitors 2-0 up in the second half
- Joe Aribo scores first goal for Southampton since summer move from Rangers
- Kyle Walker-Peters draws teams level with nine minutes to go to save a point
- Striker Patrick Bamford forced off after half and hour with fresh injury blow
In the soaring temperatures, he had already had to ditch and swap his more familiar touchline attire of a shirt, tie and waistcoat for a far more suitable polo shirt and cap.
And then, with disgruntlement breaking out in the stands to go with that among some in his dressing room, Southampton fell 2-0 down to Leeds on the hour when Rodrigo nodded in this second of the afternoon.
Having kicked off with one win in their previous 13 league games the almost inevitable ‘sacked in the morning’ chants followed.
Kyle Walker-Peters celebrates getting Southampton’s equaliser in their 2-2 draw with Leeds
Walker-Peters goal relieved pressure on Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl at St Mary’s
But Hasenhuttl then made the first of two changes that turned the game back Southampton’s way before his third substitute made the game-saving contribution.
Joe Aribo scored 11 minutes after coming off the bench to provide the platform for Southampton’s fightback.
Then fellow sub and debutant Sekou Mara, with a brilliant bit of skill and inch-perfect pass, teed up unlikely hero Kyle Walker-Peters to make it 2-2.
While Walker-Peters headed for the crowd, Hasenhuttl was on the pitch celebrating in front of his dugout. Delighted? Yes. Relieved? No doubt. Feeling a little more comfortable? Finally.
It was not the win he could have done with but certainly a comeback to cling to and some real fight shown in really difficult circumstances by his team, especially one that is young, still forming after an influx of summer arrivals and who had crumbled once the game started to get away from them a week earlier at Tottenham.
Rodrigo scores the opening goal in Leeds 2-2 draw with Southampton at St Marys on Saturday
Rodrigo added a brace to the goal he scored on opening day to make in 3 goals in 2 games
After an injury-hit last season the sight of Patrick Bamford back on the pitch is a welcome one for Leeds. He got through 84 minutes in Leeds’s season-opening win against Watford and had a couple of early glimpses of goal from Rodrigo crosses.
But his cruel injury curse struck again midway through the half when he slumped to the ground feeling his right groin, before eventually walking off for a long chat in the technical area with Marsch and a place back on the bench.
His replacement Daniel James almost made a swift impact, being pushed through by Jack Harrison before seeing his shot athletically and excellently tipped away by Gavin Bazunu.
James involvement minutes later was less welcome. After Southampton cleared the first corner, James then got in the way as the better-placed Rasmus Kristensen looked to nod Rodrigo’s flick on into an empty net. James’s presence forced Kristensen to take his eye off the ball and his contact was too tame allowing Bazunu to make a save he should not have been able to.
In soaring heat teams stopped twice for water breaks midway through both halves of the game
By then there were some rumblings of discontent in the stands as Southampton struggled to create much going forward.
For a little while it seemed they might be playing against ten men when Diego Llorente’s last man tackle on Stuart Armstrong went to a VAR review but was eventually deemed not to be the denial of a goal-scoring opportunity. This was not a day to be chasing the opposition around a man short.
Southampton’s first chance was not exactly a clear one, a Walker-Peters cross that ricocheted wide off of Armstrong.
Their second sighter was a thunderbolt from Armel Bella-Kotchap that looked closer than it was after the German youngster burst out from the back. Other than that, they had offered little, hence the grumblings.
And things got far worse less than 60 seconds into the second half. It began scrappily, with Southampton struggling to clear their lines despite multiple attempts.
New recruit Joe Aribo puts Southampton back in the game to make it 2-1 in the second half
The ball eventually fell to Harrison down the left and his low cross was flicked home on the run by Rodrigo who had escaped Mohammed Salisu and nipped in ahead of the unaware Bednarek, just as Bamford had in the first half.
Just before the hour Rodrigo nodded onto the roof of the net from another Harrison cross. Just as concerning for Southampton would have been the increasing frustration from the crowd as their dawdling in defence plus a rare mistake from James Ward-Prowse, a mis-placed back-pass, led to the concession of the corner and more jeers.
That proved, though, to just be a temporary reprieve and the dissent soon grew further. From yet another corner, this time from, Struijk sent Brendan Aaronson’s corner looping over Bazunu and Rodrigo made sure it went in on the goal-line.
Hasenuhuttl instantly turned to Adam Armstrong and Aribo, bringing them on for the ineffective Stuart Armstrong and Mohamed Elyounoussi. Very quickly Aribo, in particular, impacted the game, forcing Meslier into one save from a header and Struijk into a last-ditch challenge.
With his next attempt. He eventually made it count to set up a frantic finish.
Patrick Bamford was forced off after half an hour with a new injury blow for the Leeds striker
Che Adams sent Adam Armstrong racing down the left with a clever touch and his cross eventually ran all the way to Aribo at the backpost.
He looked to have spurned the opportunity when he rounded Illan Meslier, allowing Leeds to get defenders back on the line.
But, with the odds now against him, he managed to fire off a shot that squeezed into the far corner. Game on.
And comeback complete when Walker-Peters latched onto Mara’s pass to slide the equaliser past Meslier.
Leeds had struggled to cope with Southampton and create much after going 2-0 up though had a chance to nick it at the death when Rodrigo let fly and stung Bazunu’s palms.
But, from their position of comfort with almost 20 minutes left, they might have ended the game relieved to head home with a point.
MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
SOUTHAMPTON (5-3-2): Bazunu 7; Walker-Peters 8, Bednarek 5 (Mara 70, 7), Bella-Kotchap 7, Salisu 6.5, Djenepo 7.5 (Stephens 90); Ward-Prowse 6, Lavia 7.5, S Armstrong 5.5 (Aribo 61, 7.5); Elyounoussi 5 (Armstrong 6, 61), Adams 6.5.
Subs not used: McCarthy, Lyanco, Stephens, Romeu, Aribo, Mara, Diallo, Valery.
Scorer: Aribo 72, Walker-Peters 82
Manager: Ralph Hasenhuttl 8
LEEDS (4-2-3-1): Meslier 6.5; Kristensen 6, Koch 7, Llorente 7, Struijk 7.5; Roca 7 (Forshaw 88), Adams 7; Aaronson 7, Rodrigo 8, Harrison 7.5 (Klich 84); Bamford 6 (James 28, 5.5 (Sinisterra 84)).
Subs not used: Klaesson, Forshaw, Summerville, Hjelde, Drameh, Greenwood
Scorer: Rodrigo 46, 60
Booked: Harrison, Kristensen, Aaronson
Manager: Jesse Marsch 6.5
Referee: Tony Harrington 6