An early Southampton red card did not define this particular match with Leicester City, as James Ward-Prowse gave the 10-man Saints a lead en route to an unlikely 1-1 draw with the Foxes at St. Mary’s on Friday.
Leicester’s goal came from Jonny Evans off a feed from red-hot Kelechi Iheanacho but more was expected from Brendan Rodgers’ men.
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The draw opens the door to third-place by just a crack, the Foxes’ brutal final three matches of the season making an eight-point advantage on fifth far from bulletproof.
Southampton’s 37th point moves it 10 points clear of the bottom three, safety a welcome probability.
Three things we learned from Southampton – Leicester City
1. Another early Saints red turns out differently: Oh boy does Southampton like an early red card. Saints had two this year before Vestergaard’s sending-off on Friday, and both came in the same game. That 9-0 loss to Manchester United saw Alexandre Jankewitz sent off in the second minute and Jan Bednarek tossed in the 86th. The previous season saw a Ryan Bertrand 12th-minute foul with the score 1-0 turn into another 9-0, this one to Leicester.
2. About that red card: There’s controversy in the sending-off for two reasons. The first is that Vestergaard got the ball before his studs scraped up Jamie Vardy’s ankle. The second is the red card for denial of a goalscoring opportunity, in that it’s a judgment call whether Vardy could’ve caught up to the ball (he probably would have, but again there’s room for discussion). There’s a third, too — If the studs aren’t a foul for the tackle itself, how are they a foul after the tackle and hence a denial?
3. Iheanacho shows his set-up side: The Nigerian striker has collected a handful of assists each season but all anyone’s been talking about is his 14 goals in 14 matches coming into Friday’s match at St. Mary’s. But his cross to tie the score at 1 was very pretty and it’s notable that his assists-per-game is slightly higher at Leicester than it was at Manchester City.
Man of the Match: Alex McCarthy
His eight-save night kept Saints within a shout all night.
Southampton – Leicester City
Southampton had the ball in the goal through Kyle Walker-Peters, but he was offside when he ran onto a massive pass from the back.
The game was flipped on its ear by the latest bizarre-to-detangle red card. Jannik Vestergaard’s follow-through on a desperation tackle caught Jamie Vardy after the ball and VAR decided that the Leicester forward could’ve tracked down the ball.
That made the play a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity and a straight red card.
However, there was no terrific tilting of the scales. A James Maddison free kick did not curl inside the post and the match was 0-0 at the break.
Still, the breakthrough came for the 10-man Saints when a handball was given and upheld by VAR. Ward-Prowse stroked home the penalty for 1-0.
Leicester equalized through Evans off a Kelechi Iheanacho cross, a very nice assist onto the doorstep for a headed finish, but there were precious few threats to make it 2-1 let alone run away with a win.