Southampton stun Watford with five-minute comeback to win crucial relegation clash

James Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings inspired Southampton to a remarkable victory. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Southampton’s survival hopes were revived with a surprising five-minute comeback as they beat fellow strugglers Watford 2-1 at St Mary’s.

In a vastly uninspiring first 70 minutes, Ismaila Sarr gave the Hornets the lead as the south coast side struggled to muster a threat.

But in the blink of an eye, Danny Ings and James Ward-Prowse helped the hosts overturn a deficit in the final 12 minutes.

The three points could prove crucial come the end of the season, with the sides starting the game last and second-last in the Premier League, and was Southampton’s first win in nine league attempts.

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The Senegalese forward should have put the visitors in front inside two minutes when he found himself clean through on goal, only to fire straight at the grateful Alex McCarthy.

In a meagre first-half showing, Nathan Redmond mustered one of the hosts’ better chances when he played a one-two with Ings only to fire straight at Ben Foster.

And before they could warm into the occasion, Southampton were behind. Midway through the half, a long ball by Watford left Jack Stephens scrambling and set Sarr through on goal.

With the composure of a prolific forward, Sarr lifted the ball beyond McCarthy and put the visitors in front with his first Premier League goal since signing for the Hornets in August.

Sarr should have had a first half hat-trick but, after his early miss, he saw a volley at the far post kept out brilliantly by McCarthy on the half-hour mark.

The battle of the basement duo was rapidly becoming a test of their respective goalkeepers, and former QPR man McCarthy had to be at his best to deflect the ball away from Sarr two minutes later - who surely would’ve scored from close range.

Sarr had handed the visitors a deserved lead in the first half. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
But Danny Ings inspired his side to a second-half comeback and a crucial three points. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

When Redmond curled an effort over five minutes before the break, hapless Southampton’s efforts seemed to be summed up - but Ward-Prowse almost manoeuvred an equaliser on the stroke of half time with a back-heel which was dragged narrowly wide of the far post.

After leaving the pitch at the interval to boos from the home crowd, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men mustered a more energetic showing in the second half.

Sarr drilled an effort narrowly over the bar, before a penalty appeal went against the hosts after Foster appeared to bring down Ings, having slipped on the ball inside his own six yard box.

Southampton started slowly but the final 25 minutes belonged to the hosts, who slowly turned up the heat on their opponents.

It took a terrific save from Foster to keep out second-half substitute Shane Long’s hooked effort from close range, tipping the strike onto the crossbar and away on 67 minutes.

Ten minutes later, the hosts should have levelled when the Republic of Ireland striker was picked out by Ings from close range, and having beat Foster saw Craig Cathcart make a desperate clearance off the line.

Just a minute later, though, the hosts got their leveller. Moussa Djenepo left Jose Holebas for dead inside the box, drew out Foster and set up Ings - who bundled home his seventh Premier League goal of the season to the relief of St Mary’s.

That goal reinvigorated the hosts and the fans were left rocking five minutes later when Ward-Prowse’s free kick from the edge of the box beat Foster, who got a fingertip to the ball but could not keep him out.

The win leaves Southampton in the relegation zone, but just two points off 17th-placed Everton, who play on Sunday.

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