Manolo Gabbiadini stepped off the bench to settle a tense affair at the Liberty Stadium as Southampton beat fellow strugglers Swansea 1-0 on Tuesday night.
- Swansea 0 Southampton 1
- Austin threatens numerous times for Saints
- Clucas goes close with glancing header
- McCarthy denies Ayew with fingertip save
- Gabbiadini (73′) scores from close range
Only goal difference separated the two teams coming into this relegation six-pointer, and Mark Hughes’ side created the better chances before Gabbiadini scored the only goal of the game just five minutes after his introduction.
Victory for the Saints took them three points clear of the drop zone and meant that West Brom were relegated, while the 18th-placed Swans now need to beat Championship-bound Stoke on the final day to stand a chance of staying up.
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) 8 May 2018
The hosts enjoyed the better exchanges in a cagey first half, although the Saints looked the likelier to score.
Alfie Mawson was relieved to see Ryan Bertrand’s shot from 20 yards out go wide on seven minutes after he was dispossessed on the edge of his own box.
The Swans quickly went on the attack and Andy King tested Alex McCarthy with a low strike from 22 yards out, before the game settled down somewhat.
Jordan Ayew sent a looping header over the crossbar on 26 minutes after connecting with Ki Sung-Yueng’s hooked ball into the box, while Charlie Austin had two promising chances around the half-hour mark.
The striker dragged an ambitious long-range effort wide of the left post after being fed by Nathan Redmond, who won back possession on the left, before he forced Lukasz Fabianski into a low save from 16 yards out moments later after being played in by Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
Sam Clucas wasn’t far away from opening the scoring for Carlos Carvalhal’s men on 35 minutes as he glanced a header just wide of the left post from King’s cross on the right, before Austin hit a powerful volley straight at Fabianski from 12 yards out two minutes before half-time.
The Welsh outfit went close two minutes after the restart when Ayew cut inside from the left and saw his curler from 19 yards out smartly tipped over by McCarthy.
Austin had a sniff at goal at the other end five minutes later, but his shot from the edge of the box was directed straight at Fabianski again. The Saints striker was having no luck as he headed Cedric’s cross at the Polish keeper from eight yards out on the hour mark.
Substitute Tammy Abraham looked to take matters into his own hands 10 minutes later when he drove at goal before shooting straight at McCarthy from 19 yards out.
Hughes had also turned to his bench and his change quickly paid dividends as Gabbiadini slotted home from close range on the rebound in the 73rd minute after Austin’s initial volley had been saved by Fabianski.
The Saints continued to look dangerous in the closing stages and Austin steered a header straight at Fabianski from Cedric’s cross on 80 minutes, before substitute Shane Long narrowly missed the target from inside the box on the right in the final minute.