Leeds battle to huge win against Southampton
Leeds battled to a huge win against Southampton as they recorded their first Premier League win in 11 games.
Junior Firpo was the unlikely hero for Leeds, as he scored his first ever Premier League goal in the second half and new manager Javi Gracia got off to a perfect start in charge.
The win moves Leeds out of the relegation zone and they now have 22 points.
Southampton remain bottom of the table on 18 points as Ruben Selles suffered defeat in his first game as their new permanent boss. They are now four points off safety with 14 games to go.
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Gracia gets his subs spot on, Selles doesn’t
What a start for Gracia in a tight, tense game and his substitutes made the difference as Ruben Selles made a triple switch and it didn’t work out for Saints. This win feels like it can be the one which reignites Leeds’ season and keeps them above the relegation zone. Rutter and Summerville stretched Southampton’s defense and Leeds responded to their fans roaring them on with 30 minutes to go. They always looked the more likely to break through and Jack Harrison summed up their spirit and determination as he set up the winner and Leeds held on easily to grind out a massive win. Selles taking off Onuachu and Sulemana was a strange and brave move and it didn’t come off and these games are decided by small margins. Saints’ personnel switch handed Leeds the initiative and they took it. Leeds were also solid defensively and that’s going to be key and the USMNT duo of McKennie and Adams created a great shield in front of the back four and Brenden Aaronson was back buzzing around in attack as all three started in the PL together for the first time. Leeds have a 100 percent winning record when the USMNT trio start together in the Premier League...
Junior Firpo reacts to his huge goal
“We did a really good first half. We thought it could be a game like others where we create chances, don’t score and then the other team scores once. We managed the game really well. It has been one of the toughest times in my career, but we have one of the best dressing rooms I’ve seen and we deserve the win,” Firpo told our partners in the UK at Sky Sports.
Javi Gracia: ‘It is one step but an important step’
“Very proud of the club. When I arrived, I saw everyone was involved; the owners, the directors. Everyone gave us a warm welcome, especially the supporters and players. After 10 games without a win, the team needed it. It is one step, but an important step. The difference was we were solid. We got a clean sheet and that is important. That is the way we need to grow. I can tell you I am proud of my players; today they did their job. We are happy with the result and attitude,” Gracia told our partners in the UK at Sky Sports.
Stars of the show; Leeds vs Southampton player ratings
Weston McKennie: Brilliant midfield display. Surged forward when he could and did his job defensively alongside Tyler Adams.
Romeo Lavia: The one Southampton player who looked like he could make something happen on the ball. Was key in a great midfield battle.
Jack Harrison: Silky assist for the winner and never gave up as he buzzed around everywhere.
Leeds are away at Chelsea on Saturday, March 4 while Southampton host Leicester City on the same day.
How to watch Leeds vs Southampton live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 10am ET, SaturdayTV Channel: USA NetworkOnline: Stream via NBCSports.com
FULL TIME: Leeds 1-0 Southampton - Not a classic but a priceless win and amazing scenes at Elland Road.
Big chance for Southampton! Ward-Prowse whips in a corner but Bella-Kotchap gets it all wrong and puts his free header off target.
It is all Leeds now. Saints look stunned. 7 minutes plus stoppage time to go. Is it time for Javi Gracia to shut up shop? Southampton surely have to take a few risks now...
GOALLL! Leeds go 1-0 up late on. Massive goal in the relegation scrap. Leeds sporting director Victor Orta crying in the stands. Firpo squeezes one home. Poor from Bednarek as he pulled his foot away from the clearance and gave Bazunu no chance. Leeds 1-0 Southampton.
Brilliant back from substitute Kyle Walker-Peters, who has just come on at left back for Southampton. Excellent defending. Leeds pushing hard.
CHANCE! Walcott played in but Firpo gets a tackle in to block his shot. Southampton were very composed creating that chance.
Gnonto is off for Leeds with Summerville on. Looked like Gnonto has a knock. Triple sub for Saints with Mara, Walcott and Diallo on. Ward-Prowse has been pushed further forwards...
Strong start to the second half from Leeds, who are pressing and the fans are getting behind them. Southampton struggling to get on the ball and keep it.
HALF TIME: Leeds 0-0 Southampton - Leeds have done more of the pressing but Southampton have had some decent chances on the break. It is getting very nervous at Elland Road. Big 45 minutes coming up.
OVER! Weston McKennie lobs over the bar. Bamford slipped just before that.
CHANCE! Brenden Aaronson whips one wide, then Leeds have a chance at one end and Onuachu curls one from distance after a counter but Illan Meslier saves.
CHANCES! Stuart Armstrong with a tame effort at the near post and then Aaronson drags a shot wide too. Leeds pushing here as Bednarek clears.
A good start for Leeds, who are positive and Southampton are having to do a lot of defending. The home crowd are enjoying this start.
KICK OFF! We are underway. What an atmosphere at Elland Road. A hugely important day in the season for both of these teams.
A simply huge game at Elland Road and all three Americans are starting for Leeds. A massive day for new Leeds boss Javi Gracia and Ruben Selles after he was named Southampton boss until the end of the season. What an intense game this will be.
Key storylines & in-form players to watch
Leeds have to find some form from somewhere and Gracia’s arrival may give them the boost they need. Their last Premier League win came at home against Bournemouth on November 5 and they may need to just go for it from here on out. Defensively they are all over the place but they do have attacking players who can hurt opponents. If they can get Wilfried Gnonto, Patrick Bamford, Jack Harrison and Co. in the right positions, they can get out of this mess.
Southampton are within three points of safety and as bad as their season has been, there is renewed hope that Selles can turn things around. There was a really negative vibe in the air when Nathan Jones was boss but it now seems that Saints are pulling in the right direction and they have a host of talented youngsters plus January signings Kamaldeen Sulemana and Paul Onuachu have made a big difference.
Leeds team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Rodrigo (ankle), Stuart Dallas (leg), Luis Sinisterra (thigh), Archie Gray (ankle), Adam Forshaw (hip), Sonny Perkins (ankle), Marc Roca (knock)
Southampton team news, injuries, lineup
OUT: Tino Livramento (knee), Alex McCarthy (ankle), Che Adams (knock), Mislav Orsic (concussion)