17 July 2020 00:31
The Independent employs reporters around the world to bring you truly independent journalism. To support us, please consider a contribution. Danny Ings struck his 20th Premier League goal of the season on Thursday as Southampton fought back to secure a 1-1 draw which almost certainly guarantees safety for Brighton. In-form Ings calmly rolled home in the 66th minute to deservedly prevent Saints slipping to a club-record 11th home league defeat of a tumultuous campaign. South-coast rivals Albion, who moved six points clear of the relegation zone with only two fixtures remaining, led at St Mary's courtesy of Neal Maupay's first-half strike.
Download the new Independent Premium app Sharing the full story, not just the headlines Ralph Hasenhuttl's mid-table hosts had taken 11 points from 18 since football resumed ahead of kick-off but were guilty of a limp first-half display. They improved considerably after the restart and were unfortunate not to win having struck the woodwork either side of the leveller through Ings and Jannik Vestergaard. Saints were afforded 48 hours fewer to prepare for this match than their opponents after snatching a 2-2 draw against Manchester United on Monday evening. Striker Michael Obafemi, who grabbed the late equaliser at Old Trafford, was rewarded with a recall, while Hasenhuttl's six changes also included a Premier League debut for 20-year-old left-back Jake Vokins. Albion were looking to bounce back from successive home defeats to Manchester City and champions Liverpool and banish any lingering relegation doubts.
Veteran Glenn Murray was handed a rare start for the visitors, while top scorer Maupay also returned as part of six alterations made by Graham Potter following the 5-0 thrashing by Pep Guardiola's City. The recalled strikers combined to devastating effect for a simple early opener. Tariq Lamptey's throw-in from the right was flicked on by the unmarked Murray, allowing Frenchman Maupay time and space to drill home left-footed and claim his 10th goal of the season. Maupay's strike meant he became only the second Brighton player after 36-year-old Murray to reach double figures in a Premier League season. Southampton had earlier threatened when makeshift right-back Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stung the palms of Mathew Ryan after engineering a clear sight of goal. Denmark international Hojbjerg, who has expressed a desire to leave Saints, later escaped half-hearted Brighton appeals for a penalty after his challenge led to Maupay going to ground. Saints were far from their fluent best in a disappointing first half and were correctly denied a 39th-minute leveller. Lamptey's blushes were spared by an offside flag after he inadvertently turned the ball into his own net having seen Ings' initial effort diverted onto the crossbar by keeper Ryan. Hasenhuttl reacted to the below-par display by bringing on Che Adams and Kyle Walker-Peters at half-time. His side began brightly in the second period, with league debutant Vokins flashing a low drive from distance marginally wide. Ings was then unfortunate to curl against the right post from the edge of the box before substitute Adams' follow-up attempt was superbly blocked on the line by Brighton captain Lewis Dunk. Southampton's pressure eventually paid off with 24 minutes to go. Ings, who remains with an outside chance of claiming the Golden Boot, was sent scampering away by Nathan Redmond's through ball and he calmly drew Ryan before slotting into the bottom right corner. The Seagulls were then indebted to keeper Ryan when he somehow got fingertips to a thunderous 25-yard strike from Vestergaard to turn it on to the underside of the crossbar. It was all Southampton but Brighton substitute Yves Bissouma squandered an excellent chance to restore the visitors' advantage against the run of play. Albion dug in during six minutes of added time to make it six away games without defeat and, but for a remarkable goal difference swing, will be playing top-flight football for a fourth successive season. Southampton vs Brighton: Can The Saints Go Five Unbeaten? by Ryan Borowski BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Danny Ings of Southampton runs with the ball during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Southampton FC at American Express Community Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images) Southampton host Brighton in the Premier League on Thursday evening and will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games. A 2-2 draw with Manchester United on Monday saw Saints put in another whole-hearted display and get their just rewards late on with Michael Obafemi's equaliser in stoppage-time. Now they face a different challenge in the form of the Seagulls who have had a mixed season under Graham Potter. They have accumulated seven points since the restart of domestic football last month and are on the verge of safety, although they will be targeting a win at St Mary's to mathematically their place in the top-flight next year. Ahead of the game, team news from Ralph Hasenhuttl and Graham Potter may give an indication about which team will be favourites ahead of kick-off. Saints look set to be without each of Moussa Djenepo, Sofiane Boufal and Yan Valery with all three players unlikely to be risked ahead of the end of the season. Otherwise, all other players that were available for the 2-2 draw with Manchester United will be available for selection once again. However, Ralph Hasenhuttl confirmed that changes might be made after a tough recent schedule and plenty of running done by his team. Graham Potter said in his pre-match press conference that midfielder Steven Alzate will be out for a while after undergoing surgery on a groin injury. Jose Izquierdo is the only other first-team player who will definitely be out of this game and the Seagulls will benefit from the two days extra rest they have had on Saints ahead of this one. The previous meeting between these two sides ended with Saints taking three points away from the AMEX Stadium after a 2-0 win – Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond netting the goals. Predicted Saints starting line-up Alex McCarthy, Kyle Walker-Peters, Jannik Vestergaard, Jack Stephens, Jake Vokins, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Will Smallbone, Nathan Redmond, Shane Long, Danny Ings Predicted Brighton starting line-up Matt Ryan, Tariq Lamptey, Shane Duffy, Lewis Dunk, Bernardo, Aaron Mooy, Davy Propper, Yves Bissouma, Alireza Jahanbakhsh, Leandro Trossard, Neal Maupay