Southampton earn vital win over Swansea to send West Brom down – as it happened

Manolo Gabbiadini’s 72nd-minute goal means Southampton are all but safe, Swansea are on the brink of relegation and West Brom are heading to the Championship

Here’s Mark Hughes with a smile as wide as the Severn Bridge: “That’s why we do this job, for moments like this. I think my feelings probably showed in my behaviour [at the final whistle]. It’s been a huge effort by the players, not just today but since we’ve come in. They’re worked their socks off every single day and in every single game. We weren’t going to be denied. I’m really delighted for them and the club. It’s not done mathematically yet but we’ve put ourselves in a good situation. But it would be foolhardy to think it’s done. We’ll be ready to go again on Sunday.”

Regarding his introduction of Gabbiadini in the second half, he says: “We had to go for it so there was always going to be a point where we take one of the centre-halves off and put on as striker [Gabbiadini] has reacted well to get his goal. He hasn’t played much recently but he’s been working hard in training.”

To conclude, he’s asked whether he slept well at his hotel last night. “It was great, I recommend the Vale,” he replies, smiling wider than ever.

Carvalhal reckons there’s no chance of Southampton being caught and that overtaking Huddersfield is Swansea’s only semi-realistic hope. Huddersfield, of course, beat Carvalhal’s Sheffieled Wednesday in last season’s Championship playoffs and will sicken him again by getting a point from their last two matches, against Chelsea and Arsenal.

A downbeat Carvalhal says his team did their utmost but now require a kind of miracle to survive. “At the end of the game we all had the feeling we deserved a little more. We played to win. We were a little emotion, not always connected ... they achieved a goal from a corner and that is part of the luck of the game. Now we are in a position where we depend on others. We are not relegated yet. At the weekend we must try to do our part and see if a kind of miracle can happen.”

Here is Stuart James’s report on the match from the Liberty Stadium.

Charlie Austin, speaking to Sky, reckons Southampton are nigh-on safe. They will only go down if they lose heavily to Man City, Huddersfield take at least one more point, and Swansea thrash Stoke. ““It’ll take a nine-goal swing [actually 10],” says Austin. “It can be done I suppose but … our hard work paid off today. We need nothing less than a win because we knew they have Stoke to come at the weekend. I’ve been relegated before at QPR and it’s a sad, sad feeling. But the gaffer has come in and turned it around, put some belief back into the team. We were down there because we weren’t good enough but the manager has turned it around.”

Looking forward to see Mark Hughes interviewed: he celebrated at the final whistle with rare abandon. The prospect of being tied to two relegations in the same season clearly riled him, as did those pre-match complication with the hotel and police escort. Southampton deserved their win. They had more quality going forward. Swansea have scored two goals in their last eight matches; and it’s not a foregone conclusion that they will beat doomed Stoke on Sunday.

“I wonder what Swansea’s American owners are thinking now,” says Mark Judd. “A well run club run out of town by a poor decisions. You have to feel for the fans.” They’re not out of town yet. I fancy Huddersfield to get at least at point from their last two games but it’s far from certain.

Full-time: Swansea 0-1 Southampton

Southampton celebrate as if they’re safe! That’s not quite the case but it will take a freakish set of results on the last day for them to go down now. Gabbiadini has been a disappointment this season but he came off the bench and made himself a hero here! Southampton’s win has relegated West Brom and plunged Swansea and Huddersfield into deep bother: Huddersfield only need a point from their last two matches - against Chelsea and Arsenal - but if they fail to get it, then Swansea can leapfrog them by beating Stoke at home on Sunday.

Connor Roberts of Swansea City looks dejected as Southampton celebrate at the final whistle.
Connor Roberts of Swansea City looks dejected as Southampton celebrate at the final whistle. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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90+4 min: Long knocks the ball past Fernandez and gets clumped by the defender. That’s a booking for the defender and a freekick to Southampton, who will do their best to make it last two minutes.

90+2 min: Abhraham chests down a high ball into the box with Fellaini-esque excellence, then swivels and slashes a shot over the bar from 10 yards. There will be at least six more minutes. Plenty of time, as Everton’s Tom Davies could confirm.

90+1 min: Southampton sweep forward and Gabbiadini plays in a Long. It’s a tough angle, and Long bangs his shot on the run into the sidenetting from 15 yards.

90 min: Ki delivers a corner. It’s glanced on at the near post by Clucas, but Bertrand then makes a diving headed clearance.

88 min: McQueen runs the ball towards the corner down Swansea’s end and accepts a throw-in. Faces in the home crowd tell the story: Swansea are at risk of being turned away from the Premier League like frustrated guests at a hotel that’s just been afflicted by a virus.

86 min: Lovely work by Narsingh! He twists past Bertrand and then digs a fine cross out to the back post. Abraham jumps too early, and Southampton make a panicky clearance.

84 min: Bertrand catches Narsingh on the back of the angle, giving Swansea a freekick wide on the right. Ki curls it towards the penalty spot. Abraham gets a powerful header to it, and McCarthy tips over the bar! But the whistle had gone for offside.

Southampton sub: McQueen on, Tadic off.

Swansea sub: Carroll on, King off

79 min: Hojbjerg wins a corner and then urges the travelling fans behind the goal to roar a little louder. They are happy to oblige. There are more than 10 minutes left but this is looking ominous for Swansea.

78 min: Carvalhal looks worried on the sideline - his team have failed to summon any response to falling behind so far. Southampton are looking comfortable....

76 min: Swansea have failed to score in seven home matches this season. But Southampton have let slip 21 points from winning positions, more than anyone in the league except West Brom.

Swansea sub: Narsingh on, Naughton off. Swansea need a goal.

Gabbiadini celebrates with Charlie Austin.
Gabbiadini celebrates with Charlie Austin. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

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GOAL! Swansea 0-1 Southampton (Gabbiadini 73)

What an impact from the sub! A corner provoked mayhem in the Swansea box. Long head it back across goal, Austin triggered a volley from six yards that Fabianski did well to block, but Gabbiadini pounced quicker than any defenders slammed the ball through a couple of bodies and into the net from four yards!

Manolo Gabbiadini pounces to score from close range.
Manolo Gabbiadini pounces to score from close range. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

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71 min: Bertrand stands up a good cross to the back post. Swansea scramble it away. Meanwhile, here’s a response to the question about Huddersfield’s requirements:

Southampton sub: Gabbiadini on, Bednarek off. Bednarek seems to want to play on but he looks dazed, having caught a punch by McCarthy flush in the face. Southampton wisely withdraw him. On trots Gabbiadini to join Austin up front. Southampton, it seems, are going for it ...

65 min: McCarthy charges off his line to punch away a corner from Ki. He clatters Bednarek in the process. There’ll be a pause while the Pole receives treatament.

Alex McCarthy punches clear before taking out Jan Bednarek.
Alex McCarthy punches clear before taking out Jan Bednarek. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

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Southampton sub: Long on, Redmond off.

63 min: Swansea launch a series of long throws towards Abraham. Southampton scramble the ball away each time, but not easily. Abraham’s presence is adding to their nervousness back there.

Swansea sub: Abraham on, Olsson off,

61 min: Temper are rising. There’s lots of shoving and mean talk between players.

59 min: Southampton are starting to commit more to attack. with Bertrand and Soares raiding down the wings. Soares curls a delicious cross in from the right. Austin, eight yards out in the middle of the box, meets it with a firm header ... but again it’s straight the keeper! That’s his best chance so far and he failed to really stretch Fabianski.

Charlie Austin reacts after another missed chance.
Charlie Austin reacts after another missed chance. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

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I’d say anything but a Southampton win, given Swansea have a better chance of winning at the weekend.

54 min: Redmond wins a corner, Naughton doing well to poke the ball behind as the little winger ran at him in the box. Tadic sends over an out-swinger. Too far.

52 min: Southampton make their way into opposing territory for the first time this half, and their attack culminates with a smart snapshot from Austin. He cracked off a well struck drive from 20 yards. But again Fabianksi was well positioned and held it comfortably.

51 min: Still no sign of Southampton making any inroads into the Swansea half. The home team have been on top so far in this period.

48 min: More jitters at the back from Southampton, as Bednarek plays a slack pass and McCarthy then shanks an attempted clearance out for a corner.

47 min: After a scrappy opening to the second half, J Ayew receives the ball wide on the left and sidesteps Bednarek and darting towards the box. Then, from 20 yards he sends a sweet curling shot towards the top corner. McCarthy tips it over the bar!

46 min: We’re back. No personnel changes, but at what point will Southampton start to take more risks? They will surely have to bearing in mind that if they do not win here, they will probably have to do so on Sunday against Man City.

Half-time: Swansea 0-0 Southampton

It’s been tense, scrappy and engrossing. Southampton have had the two clearest chances - Austin denied by Fabianski both times - but Swansea have had more of the ball and applied plenty of pressure in a blustery sort of way, lobbing plenty of crosses towards defenders who look quite nervous. You sense there’s a costly mistake in this game yet. As things stand, West Brom are on course to survive until the weekend at least.

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45 min: Soares careers down the right and chips a nice cross into the box. Can Saints make the breakthrough just before half-time and force Carvalhal to rework his metaphors? No, the cross is cleared easily at the near post.

43 min: Southampton tear downfield to relieve the pressure. Tadic sends over a cross from the right. It’s flicked on to the far post, where Austin meets it with a crisp volley from 10 yards. That might have been a goal if it wasn’t straight at Fabianski, who held well.

Charlie Austin volleys straight at Fabianski.
Charlie Austin volleys straight at Fabianski. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

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42 min: A Ayew does a dinky shuffle to work space for a cross from the right. That was nice. But the cross didn’t do justice to the build-up so Southampton can exhale.

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39 min: Hughes is concerned about how deep is team are being pushed. He’s waving tat them to move forward but Swansea just won’t let them out at the minute and work the ball into the box at every opportunity.

38 min: Swansea are brewing up a storm here and Southampton are just battening down the hatches. As a sign of the mounting pressure, Romeu gets booked for chopping down an opponent mid-way inside the Southampton half.

35 min: A Andrew takes a quick throw-in on the right to Roberts, who spoons a cross into the middle. Clucas gets to it first and glances a gentle header just wide from nine yards.

34 min: Ki deposits an in-swinging corner into the arms of McCarthy.

31 min: Fine play by Southampton. Hojbjerg bursts through midfield and collects a pass, then slips the ball through to Austin, running towards the right-hand side of the box. Austin unleashes a decent low shot, aiming for the far corner. Fabianski gets down well to save. That’s the best chance of the game by far.

Charlie Austin fires in a low shot which is saved by Fabianski.
Charlie Austin fires in a low shot which is saved by Fabianski. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

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30 min: Redmond intercepts a bad pass by Naughton and immediately helps the ball on to Austin. The striker, perhaps reasoning that he isn’t going to be able to run very far with it, elects to shoot from 30 yards. It’s a weak low effort that trickles wide.

28 min: After a flurry of misplaced passes by both sides, Tadic shows a bit of class. The Serb receives the ball mid-way inside the Swansea half and then turns and clips a fine pass over to Austin, who takes in on the run on his chest. Fernandez does very well to poke the ball away before Austin can fire off a shot from 18 yards.

25 min: King lofts a clever ball into the Southampton box. The defenders look nervous again, until Soares heads it behind for a corner. There follows a bout of pressure from the home side - a corner, a couple of testing throw-ins and some earnest fightball - but nothing resembling an opening. Which is pretty much how this match has gone so far. And yet it’s gripping.

23 min: Stephens plays a slack pass in midfield, straight to J Ayew. Hojbjreg is so annoyed that he just boots Ayew. A freekick is the inevitable result.

20 min: Ki is shown a righteous yellow card for stopping a counter-attack with a lunge at Tadic.

17 min: Redmond threads a reasonable pass through to Austin, and the problem that has plagued Southampton all season becoems clear: for if Austin were Shane Long, he might have got to the before the keeper (and rounded him and missed) but Austin, a reliable finisher, has no such pace. So Fabianski runs off his line and picks the ball up.

15 min: The home crowd are happy with the dynamic commitment of their team and the way they’re popping the ball around pretty well at times. Southampton are starting to look a tad flustered.

12 min: Swansea have their danders up now. They’re buzzing into tackles, refusing to give Southampton time on the ball. It’s frantic and gripping stuff, the sort that can lead to embarrassing mistakes ...

10 min: Swansea create danger for the first time. The Ayew brothers combined to tiptoe through the jittery-looking Saints defence. Hoedt and Bednarek eventually lunge into together - one from eacah side - to block A Ayew’s run into the box.

Andre Ayew is stopped by Southampton’s Jan Bednarek and Wesley Hoedt.
Andre Ayew is stopped by Southampton’s Jan Bednarek and Wesley Hoedt. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty Images

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7 min: Southampton continue to look the more enterprising, but then they need the win more than Swansea, who are giving the impression that they would not be a distraught with a draw. Which is not to say they are ultra-defensive, just that they are not exactly forcing the game. Southampton have most of the ball but are not really threatening.

4 min: Bright play by Southampton, who’ve settled the quicker. Romeu’s cross from the right after a brisk move is headed away by Mawson.

2 min: Hojbjerg slips in midfield but manages to direct his pass to a team-mate, all the same. Is it possible to water a pitch in a way that only makes one team slip? Has something happened to Southampton’s studs?

1 min: Southampton kick off and work the ball back to Hoedt, who slips over as he attempts to pass. Nerves? More dastardly tricks by someone at Swansea?

The teams enter the arena. No sign of acrimony as the players do the pre-match handshakes and claps. The home team are all in white; Southampton are wearing their black and cyan stripes.

“It’s only 120 miles between Southampton and Swansea, I don’t understand why the Saints needed a hotel,” quibbles Mike Lewis. “It probably takes longer to drive from Crystal Palace to Watford than the Saints trip for this game. Does Roy book a hotel for that fixture?” Keep up with the times, Mike: Premier League players are no longer expected to commute and work on the same day.

Carvalhal and Hughes speak

“It is amazing,” says Carvalhal. “I will tell you why.” He goes on to explain that Swansea have been in Europa League form since he arrived in late December. That’s a cunning way of glossing over the duller performances over the last seven matches. “I am very proud of my players,” he continues. “And am really happy to discuss this game today because it is something fantastic, isn’t it?”

Hughes reckons Swansea should be scared. “All the fear should be coming from Swansea,” he says. “They’ll see this as a massive opportunity to get the points they need … they know we have the attacking quality to apply pressure on them.”

Sky have just interviewed Mark Hughes and will broadcast the chat in a few minutes. but their man has tweeted a preview. Seems Hughes’ attack juices are flowing. |All this augurs well for a match in which both managers said they’d be asking their players to keep cool ....

News from the Liberty Stadium is that Southampton have run into some more bother: after yesterday’s hotel imbroglio (when they were turned away from the hotel that they had booked into, apparently on the grounds that there had been a sudden outbreak of a virus), Southampton travelled from their second-choice hotel - much farther away than their first-choice - but were held up by traffic because the police escort they thought they were going to get was cancelled. Mark Hughes and his squad were reportedly told that they’d have to sit on the idle bus for 25 minutes before being able to park close to the stadium. Hughes said they’d all get out and walk instead. So they’ve got a bonus warm-up there, and a proper funk on. Word is the visitors are minded to make Swansea pay for all these complications.

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Teams

Swansea: Fabianski; Roberts, Naughton, Mawson, Fernandez, Olsson; Clucas, Ki, King; J Ayew, A Ayew

Subs: Nordfeldt, Van der Hoorn, Carroll, Sanchez, Dyer, Narsingh, Abraham

Southampton: McCarthy; Hoedt, Bednarek, Stephens; Soares, Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand; Tadic, Austin, Redmond

Subs: Forster, McQueen, Ward-Prowse, Sims, Gabbiadini, Long, Carrillo

Referee: M Oliver

Preamble

Hello. Welcome to a match that is sure to be tense and will likely produce heroes and/or villains. The ramifications of a negative result for Swansea or Southampton are grave, even if the only team that could be definitively relegated after this match are West Brom, who will be doomed unless it ends in a draw. Southampton are probably in the most pressing need of a win even though they go into the game a place above Swansea thanks to their superior goal difference: because if Mark Hughes side fail to win here, then they will probably have to do so on the final day of the season – against Manchester City, no less. Swansea, meanwhile, may be satisfied with a draw here on the grounds that they can be confident of winning their last match of the campaign, which is against Hughes’ old boys, the already relegated Stoke. Then again, can Swansea take victory for granted against anyone? No, they cannot, because Carlos Carvalhal’s healing powers seem to be dwindling and Swansea have won none of their last seven matches, scoring just two goals in the process.

As for Huddersfield, the other team still at risk of relegation, what outcome here do you think best suits them? David Wagner’s side are three points clear of both Swansea and Southampton but with an inferior goal difference to both so could be overtaken if they fail to garner a point from their last two games, which are against Chelsea and Arsenal.

Poor old Hughes has been the subject of much mocking because of the prospect of Southampton following Stoke out of the Premier League, which would mean Hughes will have managed two relegated clubs in the same season. Still, Hughes would not be the first to suffer such an indignity. There was an amusing three-in-a-row in the 1980s, for instance. Ron Saunders secured his status as an Aston Villa legend by managing both West Brom and Birmingham City towards relegation in 1986; then, in 1987, Billy McNeill led Villa down along with Manchester City, whom McNeill had managed earlier in the campaign. The following year Dave Bassett rounded off the hat-trick by leaving Watford when they were about to drop out of the top-flight, then taking over Sheffield United, whom he took down to the third tier. So if worse goes to worst, Sparky, history is your friend, at least.

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