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Saints batter Champions Leicester to end losing run

Southampton returned to winning ways by hammering Leicester three-nil at St Mary's this afternoon

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Southampton ended their run of four straight league defeats this afternoon, comfortably beating Leicester three-nil at St Mary's.

The home side easily swept aside last year's league Champions, creating a host of chances and, crucially, taking them as has often not been the case this term.

A superb, flowing move was dispatched by James Ward-Prowse, with Jay Rodriguez adding a second following the Saints academy graduate's free kick before half time.

The hosts were wrongly denied a third, as Wes Morgan turned Dusan Tadic's free kick into his own net with Maya Yoshida incorrectly flagged offside. Saints would not be denied though, with Tadic sealing the win from the spot after substitute Shane Long was brought down in the box late on.

There was a sense of relief around St Mary's with the team dominating throughout and looking lively in attack. That composure was threatened early in the second half as Virgil van Dijk hobbled off under challenge from Jamie Vardy. The Saints Captain tried to play on but was forced from the field soon after, with Southampton fans sweating on the Dutchman's fitness for Wednesday's crucial EFL Semi-Final against Liverpool.

The home team wobbled for a brief period following van Dijk's departure, with misplaced passes adding to the nervous atmosphere around the ground. Yet, the men on the pitch soon recovered and saw out the game in exemplary fashion, with Leicester a pale imitation of last year's heroics.

The hosts took the lead in the 25th minute through James Ward-Prowse's curing finish. Cerdic Soares - who excelled both going forward and in defence - played a cute one-two with Nathan Redmond before cutting back to Ward-Prowse with the Englishman sweeping home beyond Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester set up with a narrow diamond, and Southampton's fullbacks exploited the space out wide all afternoon, with the visitors looking disorganised at the back and resorting to last ditch defending on several occasions.

Southampton started well on top, with Redmond meeting an inviting Tadic cross five minutes in, heading just over the bar. Rodriguez was a nuisance all day, causing Schmeichel to scramble an early effort away and heading Cedric's pinpoint cross just wide under pressure from Morgan at the back post 15 minutes in.

Yet, Rodriguez would not be denied with seven minutes to go before the interval. Ward-Prowse, now Saints' longest serving player following Jose Fonte's midweek departure for West Ham, delivered an excellent in-swinging free kick which was nodded down by Maya Yoshida. Where Leicester were napping, Rodriguez was alert, turning the ball in from close range.

Southampton v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Southampton were dominant throughout the first half with Leicester poor all over the pitch. Only Demarai Gray looked a threat for the visitors, seeing two shots from distance sail over the bar and another comfortably saved at the near post in a dangerous break following a poor Saints corner.

Pierre-Emille Hojbjerg saw an effort fly over following the restart, and later failed to beat Schmeichel while one-on-one, missing horridly after being gifted with a gilt-edged chance an hour in.

After a brief unsettled period following van Dijk's second half departure, Saints calmed down and reasserted their authority with Jack Stephens slotting in alongside the impressive Yoshida at the back.

The Japanese centre half was unlucky to be given offside from Tadic's teasing 74th minute set play, with Morgan turning the ball into his own net and replays showing that Yoshida was level when the ball was played.

Moments before, the Leicester Captain fluffed Leicester's only real chance, with Robert Huth's header landing at Morgan's feet inside the six yard box and the defender unable to react in time. Christian Fuchs lashed a Southampton clearance well wide with ten minuted to go, but offered no threat whatsoever in the second half.

The hosts continued to create chances, with Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu and Long having late chances to bury the game before Tadic finished the job from the spot five minutes before time.

Substitute Long raced onto a long ball in behind the Foxes' back line, and sprinted into the box. Morgan shoved the Irishman down, completing a shocking afternoon, with Tadic rifling the spot kick above Schmeichel - the Serb's first goal since the end of September.

While Leicester were very, very poor, Saints excelled and broke free of the pedestrian football that has plagued them of late. They were deserved winners, who displayed cutting edge, ruthlessness and togetherness following former Captain Fonte's shock departure to West Ham in the week.

The performance comes just in time, as Saints look to book their tickets to a first major final since 2003 against Liverpool on Wednesday. If van Dijk is deemed to be fit, then they will fancy their chances too with Claude Puel seeking to keep Saints season alive.

Saints: Forster; Cédric, van Dijk (Stephens 55), Yoshida, Bertrand; Romeu, Højbjerg (Clasie 73), Ward-Prowse; Tadić, Redmond, Rodriguez (Long 80).

Subs: Taylor, Clasie, Martina, Long, McQueen, Sims, Stephens.

Leicester: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Ndidi, Mendy (Albrighton 45), Drinkwater, Gray; Okazaki (Musa 63), Vardy.

Subs: Zieler, Chilwell, Musa, King, Albrighton, Kapustka, Benalouane.