Leicester 1 Southampton 2: Ten man Saints move out of relegation zone with win at King Power stadium
SHANE LONG stepped up to the plate as he earned 10 man Southampton a crucial victory.
Long grabbed his first goal of the season on the stroke of half-time at Leicester.
And it proved enough to give Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side three precious points in their fight against the drop.
Long was handed extra responsibility up front with Charlie Austin suspended – and he responded in style as he also won the penalty for Southampton’s opener.
The Irishman was vital for Saints as both Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi were out with hamstring problems and Manolo Gabbiadini had left in a £12m move to Sampdoria.
But Leicester looked like their hangover from losing in the FA Cup to Newport was lingering on in a dismal display.
Claude Puel was facing his former side which saw them gift Saints a two goal first half lead with James Ward-Prowse scoring from the spot.
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It was also his first goal of the season – but even losing teenager Yan Valery for two yellow card offences proved only a minor setback.
Long then made it two for Saints with his first goal since April.
And although Puel threw caution to the wind and saw Wilfred Ndidi pull one back, Southampton held firm for their first win in four league games.
The warning signs were there for Leicester early on when Stuart Armstrong found the side netting in the ninth minute after an excellent solo run from Nathan Redmond.
But Saints went ahead 60 seconds later when Nampalys Mendy made a rash challenge on Shane Long in the area.
There was minimal contact but enough for ref Michael Oliver to point to the spot.
Ward-Prowse stepped up to convert despite Foxes keeper Kasper Schmeichel getting a hand to it.
It meant Ward-Prowse has scored all three of the penalties he has taken in the Premier League.
Saints claimed a second penalty when Ben Chiwell appeared to clip Valery in the 18 yard box – this time Oliver said no but it was not the last time those two would clash.
Eleven minutes before the break, Valery went in on Chilwell with a dangerous challenge which provoked a reaction from the Leicester left back.
Valery appeared to raise his hands to Chilwell as players from both sides got involved.
But Oliver decided a yellow card for each player was punishment enough.
It briefly sparked Leicester into life and skipper Wes Morgan had a shot cleared off the line by Jan Bednarek.
But 19-year-old defender Valery was walking a tightrope in terms of cards and he was dismissed for a second caution after two fouls in quick succession on Marc Albrighton.
Southampton were far from dead and buried though and Leicester gifted them a second goal in first half stoppage time.
Long beat Ricardo and then pounced on a slip by Mendy.
The Irishman then curled a shot to the far post which looked to be going wide.
Schmeichel inadvertently diverted it in while trying to save the effort to give Long his first goal since April.
Foxes boss Claude Puel threw on wide men Harvey Barnes – recalled from his loan stint at West Brom – and Demerai Gray.
They pulled one back after 58 minutes when Ricardo’s cross hit Ndidi’s outstretched thigh to wrong foot keeper Alex McCarthy.
The ball crept over the line but it was not enough for Puel’s men.
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