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Adam Armstrong strike sees Southampton beat Leeds to win promotion back to the Premier League

Adam Armstrong strike sees Southampton beat Leeds to win promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Daniel Farke’s Leeds advanced through to the final after a comfortable 4-0 win over Norwich City in the second leg of the semi-final. Ilia Gruev, Joel Piroe, Georginio Rutter, and Crysencio Summerville all found the back of the net, a win that led to the David Wagner departing the Canaries.

Southampton meanwhile overcame West Brom with a 3-1 victory in their semi-final second leg, courtesy of goals from Adam Armstrong and Will Smallbone. Crowd trouble at the end of the game marred that one.

Southampton picked up victories over Leeds twice this season, a 3-1 win at St Mary’s Stadium and then 2-1 at Elland Road in a crucial match just a few weeks ago.

However, Leeds had previously won four out of their last seven games against Southampton, with two matches ending in draws (1-1 and 2-2).

This fixture has seen plenty of goals over the years, setting the stage for an exciting final this weekend, with an attendance of around 85,000.

So how did the game play out?

Despite a nervy start for Southampton, they broke the deadlock on 24 minutes, as leading scorer Adam Armstrong netted his 24th goal of the season, having timed his run to perfection, met a threaded ball from Will Smallbone, Leeds’ defence completely lost the danger man, and he slipped the ball past the onrushing Illan Meslier and into the bottom left corner to put the Saints ahead.

Sky Sports‘ Simeon Gholam said at Wembley: “Southampton strike first! Leeds had started stronger but the Saints grew back into it, and now they’ve taken a crucial, crucial lead.

“14 years since a side came from behind to win the Championship playoff final. Leeds have it all to do now.”

Sky Sports’ Don Goodman at Wembley: “We do say the first goal is huge in play-off finals. Southampton needed it today.

“It’s a remarkable situation Leeds have got themselves in to.

“A brilliant, clinical, ruthless finish from a man at the top of their game.”

Sky Sports’ Andy Hinchcliffe at Wembley: “When you broke into the penalty area, he’s scored all his goals from there and there was only one outcome.

“They’ve weathered the storm, Southampton.”

Jo Tessem (Ex-Southampton midfielder on BBC Radio Solent): “We’ve been waiting for that; Armstrong has made 10 or 15 runs like that without getting the ball.

“Smallbone does well; Armstrong turns well. Brilliant play!

“Forward, attacking thinking. That’s how you win football games.”

Jon Newsome (Former Leeds defender on BBC Radio Leeds): “It’s painful to watch but it’s not the first time that Adam Armstrong has run off the back of somebody.

“The centre-halves have vacated that area a little too easily for me.

“It’s a good finish from Armstrong and all of sudden, the game changes. It turns on it’s head and Leeds have got an uphill battle.”

Ian Woodcock (BBC Sport at Wembley): “Absolute pandemonium to our right in the press box.

“It had all been pretty even up until that but you can not afford to let a player of Adam Armstong’s calibre have a chance like that.

“He’s scored in all three games against Leeds this season now.

“The Whites backline was… suspect at best there.”

Dan George (BBC Sport at Wembley Stadium): “Southampton fans erupt after Armstrong’s composed finish.

“Red smoke bombs let off in their end, their fans loudly chanting and on their feet.

“The press box shook when that went in.”

Don Goodman (Former Wolves striker on Sky Sports): “Adam Armstrong is in acres of space, what are the defence doing?

“That’s a remarkable situation that Leeds United have got themselves into.

“He knows he’s onside, it’s a brilliant, clinical finish from a man on the top of his game.”

On the 35th minute, David Brooks was forced off, with Edozie taking his place. Brooks’ shoulder causing too much pain.

Shortly after, referee John Brooks booked Jan Bednarek after going through the back of Rutter.

Then Leeds’ Crysencio Summerville was the latest to go into the book. The ball had broken free in the box, but he lunged to try get to it and instead the studs went into Taylor Harwood-Bellis.

Leeds came out much stronger in the second half, Southampton trying to dig in, and Leeds thought they could have been given a penalty, with Taylor Harwood-Bellis taking out Georginio Rutter on the edge of the area.

Referee John Brooks had a good view of it and it took place outside the box. The subsequent free kick was dealt with, Leeds had a corner which came to nothing.

Leeds were soon given another free kick in a dangerous area after Willy Gnonto had been brought down by Flynn Downes. Crysencio Summerville stood over the ball and it went way off target, having Leeds fans groaning at another missed opportunity.

Southampton also had a free kick, in a dangerous area on the wing, with Ethan Ampadu overzealous when trying to deal with Will Smallbone. Leeds managed to clear.

With 10 minutes remaining, Adams was booked after a poor touch, forcing the error and a cynical drag on Ampadu in a dangerous area.

Then in the 84th minute, Dan James produced a brilliant one-two inside the Saints box, got the ball on his right foot and smashed it off the underside of the crossbar.

Southampton forward Adam Armstrong told Sky Sports:

“I don’t know what to say. This is what we’ve been working on all year. We knew how good the Championship has been this season. What a way to win and what a way to go up.

“I saw the space in behind and I knew if I kept it low and hard across goal it would go in. It was a nice one.

“It means everything. The gaffer came in during pre-season and put a marker down with what they wanted. This is why we’re footballers. What a way to win.”

Southampton captain Jack Stephens told Sky Sports:

“I’m just lost for words. I’m sorry, I’m a little bit emotional at the moment. I’m so proud to be captain of this club. I’m just so proud of the boys today, they did unbelievable.

“We probably didn’t play our best game today but we showed a different side to us. A few people have doubted us over this season. Can we defend? Can we dig in? But we really showed that today. We were magnificent.

“This is the best feeling I’ve had in football.”

This is how fans reacted as an Adam Armstrong strike sees Southampton beat Leeds to win promotion back to the Premier League…

@DanJean09: Archie Gray. You’ve grafted at Leeds, but it’s time for a move to a big club. You know you want to. #SaintsFC #LUFC

@MrRobertDSL: What a day and what a win #SaintsFC! All credit to Russell Martin! Inherited a broken squad and made a formidable team with great style. Come on you saints! @SaintRob__

@Jack_Cohen17: It feels so surreal, we’re fucking back and we’re here to stay! Russell Martin has not only transformed the club, he’s brought the players and fans closer than ever before. The future is bright on the south coast, I KNOW I AM IM SURE I AM SOUTHAMPTON TILL I DIE. #SaintsFC

@robbinho_3: Massive credit has to go to McCarthy as well. Unexpectedly catapulted into the team just five weeks ago, he has stepped up massively and made some huge saves in the last three games to get us over the line #saintsfc

Never in doubt 😏 We are Premier League, I say we are Premier League🎵
What this means, WHAT THIS MEANS!!!!! To the CLUB, to the City and to All Saints Podcast’s Saints Womens Team. #Lovin’
We LOVE Southampton! We Dooooooooo!!!!!

@MattB91: After a fairly shite 2024 for me personally, it has been fucking brilliant to watch #saintsfc this season. Thank you for the perfect ending to the season! 🙌🏼

@saintlavoo: Probably the most stressful, emotional and unenjoyable football match I’ve ever watched because of the two above. But fuck, it was worth it. WE ARE GOING UP. 🔴⚪️ #SaintsFC

@JimiMitchell: Emotionally, I am absolutely drained.. but one of the best days as a Southampton fan I have ever experienced. What a day, today was worth all the lows we’ve experienced in recent years. #SaintsFC

@Saint_Chris84: Get in!! Buzzing, absolutely buzzing!! Was so nerve wracking at times but we dealt with everything Leeds threw at us very well. Unreal performance. The come down from this high is gonna be hard 🤣 I love my club and our fans were unreal. So buzzing!! #Saintsfc

@adamcollyerr: Wouldn’t mind Dan James coming in this summer. Clearly the best on the pitch for leeds today and as a sub. Compared to the wingers we currently have I would welcome him happily #SaintsFC

@robbinho_3: Full credit to the board for identifying Russell to be the man to overhaul a playing squad, embed a completely new style of play, transform the mood of the whole club and its supporters and get us promoted in the process 👏👑 #saintsfc

@Sean_MSt: Been here since the Dell days. Been heartbroken more than I’d like to admit. But when that final whistle went, it was all worth it. Cried like a baby and will celebrate like it was the World Cup. What a feeling! #SaintsFC

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