Brighton – Southampton saw Danny Ings return and play the part of hero as Saints came back from a goal down to beat the Seagulls at the Amex Stadium on Monday.
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Brighton went ahead through Pascal Gross’s penalty kick midway through the first half, but the advantage was wiped away by Jannik Vestergaard’s header just before halftime. Ings was the tonic which Southampton required as he converted the winning penalty after coming off the bench at halftime.
The result sends Southampton up to fifth in the Premier League table, just one point back of fourth-place Leicester City. Brighton, meanwhile, remain 16th, four points clear of the relegation zone.
3 things we learned: Brighton – Southampton
1. Brighton’s press a nightmare for Saints: Brighton wreaked havoc of Southampton for much of Monday’s meeting, and they did it with a two-pronged approach. First, their high press caused lots of issues for Southampton as they tried to play the ball out of their own defensive third. On the rare occasion Southampton were able to build out of the back, Brighton went into a deeper defensive shell in an attempt to draw Southampton’s full backs forward — too far forward — at which point Brighton once again triggered the press to win the ball back with half of Southampton’s backline out of position. It’s a lot easier to counter-attack against two defenders and a midfielder than it is four defenders and a midfielder.
2. Ings’ absence/lack of sharpness a problem throughout: Based on the above points, Saints were sorely missing Ings (during open play, at least) for the first time since losing him just over a month ago. When you find yourself under immense pressure inside your own half, sometimes all you have to do is send the ball forward and let your star striker run in behind and will chances into existence. (See also: Vardy, Jamie)
gotta be ings coming on. brighton's press causing problems, especially not having the long channel ball as an option to bypass pressure. for all the pace he has left, walcott is almost stood still and rarely/never showing. ings/adams working the channels will bring chances
— Andy Edwards (@AndyEdMLS) December 7, 2020
3. Resilience to battle and win away: And yet, taking all of the above into consideration, Southampton were just about brilliant defensively — defensive midfielder Oriol Romeu, in particular — and allowed just three shots on target. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side continues to prove itself as one of the Premier League’s best defensive units on a game-by-game basis. Their ability to weather the early storm, when the attack was misfiring (or not firing at all), is what really won this game.
The game’s first scoring chance fell to Danny Welbeck with just four minutes on the clock, and Welbeck will be disappointed to have done so poorly with it. Solly March made progress down the left flank and sent a low cross toward the penalty spot where Welbeck met it with his right instep. The contact was either much too soft or on top of the ball, as it never had any power behind it.
Brighton were awarded a penalty for James Ward-Prowse’s handball offense in the 24th minute, and Gross hammered it past Alex McCarthy to give the Seagulls a 1-0 lead. Ward-Prowse could complain very little after handling the ball with his right arm raised well above his head as he battle Welbeck for positioning just on the corner of the box.
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Southampton got a rather undeserved equalizer (on the whole of the first half’s evidence, at least) in the 45th minute. Ward-Prowse atoned for his earlier error with one of his signature set-piece deliveries, picking out Vestergaard’s head from a corner kick. Vestergaard did very well to loop the ball over the outstretched Mat Ryan and tuck the ball away inside the far post.
The decisive moment arrived in the 77th minute, when referee David Coote whistled March for a foul against Kyle Walker-Peters just outside the right corner of the penalty area. The decision went to video review for a lengthy look, ultimately changed to a foul which occurred just inside the box. Ings stepped to the spot and stroked home one of the cooler penalties you’ll see all season.