Southampton promoted back to the Premier League

Southampton promoted back to the Premier League

Eric Munene 21:23 - 26.05.2024

The Saints go back to the English top flight at the expense of Leeds.

In the lead-up to what is deemed the "richest game in football", Russell Martin's Southampton approached the clash against Leeds United with a sense of assurance, having secured victories over them twice during the regular Championship season, including a pivotal 2-1 win at Elland Road on the final day. The stage was set for a fiercely contested encounter at Wembley.

The first half unfolded cautiously, with both teams struggling to assert dominance. It wasn't until the 24th minute that Southampton broke the deadlock.

Will Smallbone capitalized on Ethan Ampadu's midfield press, threading a precise pass to Adam Armstrong, who calmly slotted the ball past Illan Meslier for his fourth goal in three meetings with Leeds that season.

Just before halftime, the same duo combined again, but Meslier thwarted Armstrong's attempt with a solid save.

Southampton's control continued into the second half, with Jack Stephens and Joe Rodon both denied chances by Leeds' defense, while Crysencio Summerville's effort from distance sailed wide.

Despite their possession, Leeds struggled to breach Southampton's defense. Samuel Edozie came close to extending Southampton's lead, but his shot missed the mark.

The introduction of Daniel James injected energy into Leeds' attack, with the Welshman nearly equalizing with a volley that struck the crossbar late in the game.

Alex McCarthy's save denied James in stoppage time, sealing Southampton's victory. For Daniel Farke's Leeds, the defeat marked another disappointment in the playoffs following a turbulent end to the league season.

The significance of the win for Southampton cannot be overstated, as it paves their return to the Premier League after just one season in the Championship.

The financial windfall from this victory, potentially exceeding £100 million, promises to bolster Southampton's prospects as they rejoin the top flight.

It was a historic moment for Southampton, securing promotion in their inaugural playoff final appearance.