A trademark James Ward-Prowse free-kick earned Southampton a point in a 1-1 draw at Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday afternoon.
A first-half tap-in from Jack Harrison was cancelled out by a spectacular James Ward-Prowse free-kick in the second half, as both teams were forced to settle for a draw following an enthralling contest at Elland Road.
Leeds had dominated the opening half and seized the lead through a Jack Harrison goal on the half-hour mark. The Englishman bundled home from close range after Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster failed to deal with a flailing Raphinha cross.
Southampton had a great chance to equalise shortly after falling behind. Oriol Romeu played a nice pass into Che Adams, who turned in the area and fired at goal, forcing Illan Meslier into a stunning low one-handed stop to prevent an equaliser.
Southampton equalised shortly after the restart when Kyle Walker-Peters run was cut short by a foul at the edge of the box, resulting in a free-kick opportunity 20 yards from goal. And the inevitable happened, as set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse stepped up and curled a spectacular effort into the top corner to level the score.
FULL-TIME Leeds 1-1 Southampton
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 2, 2022
With Brentford pulling themselves well and truly clear of the relegation scrap with a 4-1 victory at Chelsea, this was a crucial result for Jesse Marsch’s side, who have now created an eight-point gap above the bottom three. Meanwhile, Southampton remain in 11th position in the standings after snapping a four-game losing streak in all competitions.
Illan Meslier: 5/10
The Frenchman had a decent game as he made some very good saves, notably a fabulous stop to deny Che Adams from close range in the first half. But questions will be asked over his poor positioning for James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick. His distribution was also shabby, which made things even tougher in pressure moments.
Luke Ayling: 5.5/10
Ayling had a rather steady game from a defensive perspective, but he could not get forward and was pinned back for much of the outing. He was caught out of position a couple of times in his own half and eventually fouled Kyle Walker-Peters in a very dangerous area. He somehow found a license to maraud forward and caused the Southampton defence some problems in the final 15 minutes.
Diego Llorente: 7.5/10
I’m seeing a lot of criticism towards Llorente but I genuinely thought he was very good today.
The stats seem to back that up.🔥
— LUFCMOT (@LUFCMOTcom) April 2, 2022
It was a difficult afternoon for Llorente up against Armando Broja, but he stood up to the task by putting in a solid defensive display, helped by the fact that he was alongside the composed presence of Liam Cooper. The Spaniard completed a match-high six tackles, eight clearances and one vital block over the course of the game.
Liam Cooper: 7.5/10
The Leeds skipper made a strong return to action and led by example. He provided a vocal presence crucial to keeping things organised at the back. His aerial dominance was apparent as he won a match-high eight aerial duels and never put a foot wrong positionally.
Interceptions: 4 🥇
Clearances: 8/8 🥇
Headed Clearances: 4/4 🥇
Defensive Aerial Duels: 8/10 🥇
Liam Cooper. First appearance since December. #LUFC
— Ben Dinnery (@BenDinnery) April 2, 2022
Stuart Dallas: 6/10
Dallas had a very good game. He did not get enough chances to surge forward but covered the position well and worked tirelessly to get up and down the flank to provide another option. However, he was rarely called into action in the attack.
Mateusz Klich: 6/10
Klich put forth an energetic performance that saw him get forward a fair few times without being able to make them count. He covered a lot of ground and helped in recycling possession but struggled to get a grip in the middle of the park, especially when under pressure in the opening phase of the second half. With Kalvin Phillips knocking on the door, Klich is expected to be sacrificed in the next game.
Adam Forshaw: 7/10
Forshaw fought hard in midfield and did well in linking up with the forwards when called upon. He held firm when outrun or outnumbered by Saints midfield and was always there to put a critical tackle and cover for his teammates’ leftover scraps. He also offered himself as a passing hub at times and might have liked more control of the proceedings during the intense moments.
It was another encouraging display from Rodrigo as he linked up really well with players around him and showed his tactical acumen by finding pockets to facilitate attacks for his side. The Spaniard also made a match-high three key passes and has really fitted into Marsch’s system.
Raphinha played a key part in setting up the opener and deserves credit for keeping the ball in and putting in a good cross. But the Brazilian put on a mediocre performance compared to his natural ability and high standards. He did ask a fair few questions from the Southampton defence with his mazy runs but was largely neutralised, highlighted by his zero dribbles completed.
Dan James: 4/10
James worked the channels, and with the space Leeds had in the first half, the Welshman’s pace helped him get into a lot of promising positions on multiple occasions, but he was too wasteful. He certainly lacks that composure, close control and first-touch around the box to be deadly in the attacking third. Moreover, he was easily smothered by opposing defenders.
Jack Harrison: 6.5/10
Jack Harrison has scored back to back goals in the Premier League for the first time since January 2021.
⚽️ vs Wolves
⚽️ vs Southampton
Putting Leeds ahead. 🟡💪 pic.twitter.com/rVYL0uPmbm
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 2, 2022
Harrison was in the right place and the right time to grab the goal and put in a decent shift off the left flank. But it was another quiet afternoon for the Englishman, who could not provide a consistent attacking threat during the game.
Joe Gelhardt: 6.5/10
Gelhardt worked his socks off and posed a constant threat after coming on the hour mark for Daniel James. He knows how and where to position himself to receive progressive passes and draw fouls. The youngster showed flashes of brilliance as he carried the ball into some decent positions and got into the opposition box quite frequently.
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
It would be an understatement to say Leeds sorely missed Kalvin Phillips in the middle of the park. He showcased some lovely passing and classy touches in the short cameo but was evidently rusty and is still finding his feet.
Pascal Struijk: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.