EFL

Leeds United 0-1 Southampton: Armstrong sends Saints marching back into Premier League

By Sports Desk May 26, 2024

Southampton secured an immediate return to the Premier League after Adam Armstrong was the hero in a 1-0 victory over Leeds United in the Championship play-off final.

Saints' top scorer Armstrong provided the decisive first-half strike at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with his 24th league goal of the season sending Russell Martin’s side straight back into England's top division.

The pair had scored a combined 197 goals this campaign, but just the one finish was enough to settle what was only the third second-tier play-off final between two sides relegated the previous year.

Southampton join Leicester City and Ipswich Town in winning top-flight promotion, while Leeds – who hit the crossbar through Daniel James late on – must prepare for at least another campaign in the Championship.

Daniel Farke's team settled the quicker of the two sides, who were separated by just three points during the regular season, but with little success in front of goal.

Archie Gray – the youngest Leeds player to appear at Wembley – drilled just wide early on, while Wilfried Gnonto shot straight at Alex McCarthy.

However, Southampton struck the all-important opener after 24 minutes, somewhat against the run of play.

Armstrong beat the offside trap after Ethan Ampadu's mindless charge out from the back, latching onto Will Smallbone’s throughball before neatly slotting past Illan Meslier.

A shoulder injury forced a distraught David Brooks off soon after but the Saints went close to doubling their lead just before the break as Meslier parried away Armstrong’s drive.

Crysencio Summerville curled just wide from the edge of the box within four minutes of the restart as Leeds sought an equaliser.

Substitute James rattled the crossbar with a right-footed effort six minutes from time and was again denied by McCarthy, as Southampton held on to seal their return back to the big time.

One Armstrong finish, one giant step for Saints

Southampton were appearing in their first-ever play-off final, and they had lost on eight of their 10 previous visits to Wembley, including each of the last five.

However, the Saints stopped the rot with a little help from a promotion expert – boss Martin achieved five of them as a player, and this was his third to the top flight overall.

Armstrong's cool finish proved the difference; his 24 goals this term is the most by a Southampton player in a single season since Rickie Lambert struck 27 in 2011-12 – their last promotion-winning campaign.

It was also the Saints' 100th – and most important – goal of the season; their first time reaching triple figures since the 2009-10 season under Alan Pardew.

More play-off pain for Leeds

Leeds have now appeared in the English Football League play-offs on six occasions, failing to secure promotion in each of those instances.

The omens did not look good when they fell behind considering not since Cardiff City in 2010 has a team failed to get promoted after opening the scoring in a Championship play-off final.

It is just over 16 years since their third play-off final disappointment against Doncaster Rovers in League One (May 25, 2008), with Leeds now playing the most such matches without ever gaining promotion.

Farke also missed the opportunity to become the third manager – after Steve Bruce (four) and Neil Warnock (three) – to win three Premier League promotions, following his Championship-winning campaigns of 2018-19 and 2020-21 with Norwich City.

Related items

  • Duggan to leave Everton after second spell at club Duggan to leave Everton after second spell at club

    Everton have announced that Toni Duggan will leave the club when her contract expires at the end of this month.

    The forward is departing after her second spell at the club, having started her career at Everton in 2007-08 before rejoining in July 2021.

    She appeared in all but one of Everton's matches during her return season but missed the entirety of the second after going on maternity leave, but returned to action last October.

    The 32-year-old initially broke into the first team at 16 years old and scored an extra-time winner against Watford to send Everton into the Premier League Cup final.

    In her first spell, she was named FA Women’s Young Player of the Year in 2009 and went on to lift the FA Women's Cup the following year.

    Duggan played 92 games for the Toffees over her two spells, scoring 29 goals.

    Alan McTavish, Everton Women's Chief Executive Officer, said: "Everyone at Everton thanks Toni for her service and commitment to the club.

    "From breaking into the senior team as a 16-year-old to winning the FA Cup, she can be very proud of her contribution to Everton.

    "We wish Toni all the best for the future."

    Duggan has also played for Manchester City, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid while earning 79 England caps to date.

  • Charlotte FC vs Orlando City: Smith hoping for Orso insight against struggling former club Charlotte FC vs Orlando City: Smith hoping for Orso insight against struggling former club

    Dean Smith will hope to utilise the experience of former Orlando City midfielder Junior Orso when his new team Charlotte FC host them in MLS on Thursday.

    Charlotte head coach Smith says the influence of Orso, who spent four seasons with Orlando, could benefit the home side at Bank of America Stadium.

    "It helps," Smith said of Orso's knowledge. "Little insights of information that can help.

    "The fact that Junior will know a lot about them will certainly help us as well."

    The Crown are fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, too, owing to their remarkable defence that has helped them to ninth in the Supporter's Shield rankings.

    "Defense wins championships,” said Brandt Bronico, reflecting on the team's success this season. "If you can get the defense right, you can [then] start creating and having fun on the offensive end.

    "The collective defense-first mindset is probably the most important thing in the locker room."

    Orlando are struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, sitting just one point ahead of New England Revolution, who still have a game in hand.

    Oscar Pareja's side were beaten 3-1 by Los Angeles FC last time out, extending their winless streak to four games.

    The Orlando head coach acknowledged improvements are needed.

    "We need to have a deeper analysis about what's happening on the pitch," Pareja said.

    "But once again, it's not enough at this point. We need to win games and that's not happening."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Charlotte FC – Kristijan Kahlina

    Charlotte have kept clean sheets in five straight home matches for the first time in club history, thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.

    With a shutout against Orlando, Charlotte would become the sixth team in MLS history to keep six straight home clean sheets within a single season, equaling the second-longest run in league history.

    Orlando City – Nicolas Lodeiro

    Nicolas Lodeiro completed 107 of 115 pass attempts on Saturday against LAFC, a new career high in his 208th regular-season match after never completing more than 88 passes in a match before.

    It was the most passes ever completed by an Orlando player in an MLS match, though Lodeiro may not have as much control for this meeting.

    MATCH PREDICTION – CHARLOTTE FC WIN

    The pre-match predictions fall in the favour of the home side as Charlotte appear the most likely victors on Thursday.

    Charlotte FC went unbeaten in all three meetings with Orlando in all competitions last season (W2 D1), after Orlando won both matches in 2022.

    Expect another nervy encounter, however, as all five matches between this pair have been decided by one goal or drawn.

    Yet the hosts will be confident as Charlotte have lost only one of their last 19 regular-season home matches, dating back to the beginning of June 2023 (W9 D9).

    Only last season's MLS Cup finalists Los Angeles FC (40) and Columbus Crew (38) have earned more points at home than Charlotte (36) over that span, and Orlando are struggling heading into this one.

    The visitors have lost eight matches in the 2024 season, one more than they had all of last year.

    Yet not all hope is lost given the Lions have lost only one of their last six away from home (W3 D2).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Charlotte FC – 42.8%

    Orlando City – 30.5%

    Draw – 26.7%

  • Argentina v Canada: Messi braced for tough Copa America title defence despite favourites tag Argentina v Canada: Messi braced for tough Copa America title defence despite favourites tag

    Argentina are preparing to defend their Copa America title, but Lionel Messi is staying realistic ahead of their opening match against Canada on Thursday.

    The Albiceleste beat Brazil 1-0 in the final in 2021 to win the title for the first time since 1993 before going on to lift the World Cup just over a year later.

    Since their victory over France in December 2022, Argentina have remained in strong form, losing just one of their 14 matches in all competitions and winning the other 13.

    Messi, who will become the Copa America's all-time record appearance-maker when he next features in the tournament, says he expects to face a tough challenge to retain the trophy.

    "Argentina are always favourites," Messi said. "I think it is going to be a very eventful tournament because national teams are becoming better and better.

    "Today we are the best because we won the World Cup, but the Copa America is going to be difficult.

    "It will be even, and our team is aware that we are going to have to continue doing the same and more to win again.

    "We are going to try to win the Copa America again but let's remember that not everything is about winning."

    Meanwhile, Canada are making their first appearance at the Copa America after qualifying through the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago.

    They failed to get out of the group stage on their return to the world stage in Qatar two years ago, but now under new coach Jesse Marsch they are looking to make an impression before co-hosting the World Cup in 2026.

    Canada had an encouraging 0-0 draw against France in their last warm-up match and will hope a squad containing Alphonso Davies, Stephen Eustaquio and Jonathan David can be competitive in a Group A that also contains Chile and Peru.

    Tests do not come much tougher than the reigning champions, but Marsch is confident they have a plan to deal with the danger Argentina, and Messi, pose.

    "We're excited for this tournament, we know it's a big challenge," said Marsch. "It won't be a shock to us when we encounter the quality and the level of play with Argentina.

    "We'll be preparing heavily for everything that Argentina will do and prepare for what they present. Certainly, Messi is still a massive part of their team and who they are."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Argentina – Lionel Messi

    Who else?

    His next appearance in the Copa America will be his 35th, overtaking Chile great Sergio Livingstone, and he has scored 13 goals for Argentina in the competition along the way.

    He has also provided nine Copa assists and has had more shots than any other player at the tournament since the start of the 2011 edition (102).

    Canada – Cyle Larin

    Larin is Canada's all-time top scorer, netting 29 times for his country in 68 appearances including a key strike in the win over Trinidad and Tobago.

    Despite struggling for goals in LaLiga with Real Mallorca in 2023-24, netting just seven times in all competitions, Larin will be looking to further improve his international record at the tournament, with Lille's David (26) fast closing in on his tally.

    MATCH PREDICTION: ARGENTINA WIN

    Unsurprisingly, Argentina are the overwhelming favourites to start their title defence with a win and they go in with a 74.3% chance of finishing the game with three points.

    Canada, meanwhile, are given just an 11% chance of claiming an upset in their Copa America debut, with the draw slightly more likely at 14.7%.

    The Albiceleste have only lost once since the start of 2023, and in that run of 14 matches, they have conceded just four goals and impressively kept 11 clean sheets.

    Canada failed to score in either of their warm-up friendlies against the Netherlands (4-0) and France (0-0) in the build-up to the tournament, last hitting the back of the net in March.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Argentina – 74.3%

    Draw – 14.7%

    Canada – 11%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.