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Leeds 0-1 Southampton: Saints promoted to Premier League

Adam Armstrong's first-half goal leaves him a Southampton hero, as Saints beat Leeds 1-0 at Wembley Stadium in the "richest game on the planet" on Sunday, earning promotion and an immediate return to the Premier League.

Both Leeds and Saints were relegated from the Premier League after the 2022-23 season, with Saints in an automatic promotion spot for most of the season and Leeds rarely in the top two but first briefly very late in the campaign.

Russell Martin's Southampton had finished fourth in the table, just three points behind Leeds, and the Saints beat Leeds home and away in the regular season. Make it three, as Saints are back in the Premier League.

Russell Martin delivers promotion to retooled Saints

Martin, the 38-year-old ex-Scotland international, was a rising managerial talent after stints with MK Dons and Swansea City, and now he's in the top flight after conducting a tremendous turnaround at St. Mary's.

Martin watched as Saints sold Romeo Lavia, Tino Livramento, James Ward-Prowse, Nathan Tella, and Mohammed Salisu while notable names Armel Bella-Kotchap and Carlos Alcaraz also left Southampton. More than 200 pounds worth of transfer fees only saw about one-eighth spent on new signings, as loans were key.

Saints bought Shea Charles and Ross Stewart but the loan players were terrific. Flynn Downes when healthy was magnificent while Taylor Harwood-Bellis, David Brooks, and Ryan Fraser all started the playoff final.

There are rarely relegated clubs who aren't favorites to come back up, but Saints will be forgiven for thinking their odds were long.

Leeds attack falls flat on biggest stage

There's something to be said for bogey teams, as Leeds failed to beat Saints all season, but Daniel Farke would've never guessed his side would be shutout at Wembley Stadium.

Leeds scored nearly 100 goals across all competitions this season including two in losses to Saints, but they rarely looked likely to beat Alex McCarthy on Sunday.

The club put just two of 12 shot attempts on target and managed just 0.64 expected goals. While the backs six and goalkeeper Illan Meslier were fine, the front four were far from dangerous.

Crysencio Summerville, Georginio Rutter, Wilfried Gnonto, and Joel Piroe produced little, and both Daniel James and Jaidon Anthony had limited time to affect the game off the bench. Patrick Bamford's absence didn't help, but Leeds navigated the playoffs without him.

Just disappointing from Leeds.

Leeds 0-1 Southampton player ratings (from fotmob.com)

Leeds 0-1 Southampton player ratings (from fotmob.com)
Leeds 0-1 Southampton player ratings (from fotmob.com)

How to watch Leeds vs Southampton live in Championship playoff final

Date: Sunday (May 26)
Kick off: 10am ET
How to watch in USA: ESPN+


Leeds vs Southampton live updates of Championship playoff final — By Nick Mendola

Leeds vs Southampton final score: 0-1

Goalscorers: A. Armstrong (24')

Leeds smash the bar

Just like that Daniel James works a 1-2 and bends a ball past Alex McCarthy but off the cross bar and out!

More changes as time running out for Leeds

Junior Firpo exits for Mateo Joseph, while an injury has forced sub Edozie off for Saints. He's replaced by Ryan Manning.

Southampton had previously introduced Che Adams, while Leeds put Connor Roberts and Jaidon Anthony into the fray.

Less than minutes plus stoppage to go at Wembley.

Leeds sub

Young forward Wilfried Gnonto has not been at his best, and Welsh international Daniel James — the ex-Man United player — will take his place in the 66th minute.

Leeds bright again

The team that started the first half so brightly is back after a baffling display that helped Saints go in front.

No subs were need to get Leeds back in order, as Daniel Farke said the right words and flipped the right switches at the break.

Now can they find an equalizer? Still 1-0 Saints, 57'.

Halftime — Leeds 0-1 Southampton

This one hasn't been filled with ripe chances, but the best one was converted for a goal.

Saints lead 1-0 and have only had 45% of the ball, something the possession monsters might not have expected from the start.

Shot attempts are 4-2 for the leaders, however, who have an xG advantage to the tune of 0.37-0.09.

Leeds have Daniel James and Jaidon Anthony on the bench, while Che Adams will likely enter at some point for Southampton.

Saints forced into sub

An emotional David Brooks will have to limp off the pitch with injury in the 35th minute.

Samuel Edozie takes his place.

Adam Armstrong GOAL!!! Leeds 0-1 Southampton (24th minute)

It was Smallbone's free kick that Meslier defied earlier, and the midfielder turns provider to make 1-0.

Smallbone's inch-perfect ball is met by Adam Armstrong's well-timed run, and the Newcastle boy rolls yet another goal home.

It's a low shot beyond the reach of Meslier, and Saints lead 1-0!

Saints find ball, can’t get shot away; Free kick saved

It took nearly 10 minutes for Southampton to find meaningful football outside its half, but here is real danger.

Unfortunately for Saints, it all gets wobbly inside the 18.

Leeds can't clear the danger and concede a free kick. Will Smallbone will have a go from 25 yards.

Illan Meslier makes a flying stop and Saints win a corner that comes to nothing.

Leeds on the front foot

The first three minutes are for the team in white, who drag a first shot wide of the frame.

Southampton will want to possess the ball, but the rain is coming down and could present challenges to their preference.

Leeds lineup

Meslier, Gray, Firpo, Rodon, Ampadu, Gruev, Kamara, Summerville, Gnonto, Georginio, Piroe

Southampton lineup

McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Stephens, Fraser, Downes, Smallbone, Aribo, Brooks, A. Armstrong


Leeds United team news, focus

Leeds have become a robust, intense team throughout the season and Farke has used the brilliant attacking talents of Georginio Rutter, Crysencio Summerville, Wilfried Gnonto and Joel Piroe extremely well. They have missed the injured Patrick Bamford as their focal point up top in recent weeks and his absence for the final is a big blow. But you couldn't see it against Norwich as Leeds blew past them in the semifinal second leg. Illan Meslier continues to come up with big saves in goal at the other end, while Ethan Ampadu has been a rock in central defense and Gruev and Gray have added so much energy to this side. Pascal Struijk remains out injured after groin surgery, while right back Sam Byram had a hip flexor issue and didn’t play the second leg against Norwich but he should be available.

Southampton team news, focus

Saints are missing starting goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu after he suffered an Achilles injury in April, while playmaker Stuart Armstrong suffered a serious thigh injury late in the campaign and will not feature. Strikers Che Adams and Ross Stewart are both fit, which is a huge boost, especially Adams. Southampton could still go with a fluid front three of Adam Armstrong, Ryan Fraser and David Brooks from the start, with Brooks brilliant in the playoff semifinal second leg win against West Brom. Flynn Downes in central midfield is the heartbeat of this Southampton side while their fluid 4-4-3 formation often becomes a 3-4-2-1 in possession and allows them to get Joe Aribo and Brooks on the ball as much as possible. Playing three center backs in the starting lineup has also seen them become more solid defensively in recent weeks.