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Leeds United V Southampton: Championship Playoff Final – Live

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27 min Walker-Peters wins a corner for Southampton, who’ve had a pep in their step since Armstrong’s excellent goal.

Leeds break from the corner, four on two, but Gray’s pass goes astray. That was a chance.

26 min “As a Liverpool fan, I was very impressed at Southampton’s style of play at Anfield in the EFL Cup this season,” says Neil Waters. “Easily better than half the Premier League. Russell Martin seems to be the next great manager who was an average footballer.”

They’re all the rage these days.

Smallbone found a bit of space between the lines and poked a simple pass behind the Leeds defence. Armstrong made an excellent run behind Gruev, just right of centre, and drove the ball emphatically across Meslier.

The defending wasn’t great – Leeds’ defensive line was horribly wonky – but Armstrong finished beautifully.

GOAL! Leeds 0-1 Southampton (A Armstrong 24)Southampton have had an even better opening now!

21 min This is a pretty cagey game. Leeds have been the better team but Southampton had the best opening when Armstrong got away in the 11th minute.

19 min Summerville zips infield from the left, plays a one-two with Gruev and tries to put Gnonto through on goal with an angled pass. It’s cut out on the edge of the area by Bednarek, and a good thing too for Southampton.

17 min Gnonto is in a bit of pain after being kneed in the rump by Stephens. I don’t think it was deliberate, but Gnonto felt it.

In other news, the sun has come out at Wembley barely 20 minutes after a biblical shower.

16 min It’s an even game now. Southampton have come to the party and woken up and settled into their work.

15 min “Saints are canny all the same, staying calm, drawing Leeds’ early fire, seeing what they can do when Leeds tire,” says Jeremy Boyce. “Leeds need to channel their inner Bielsa and hope that Saints don’t channel their inner Channon/Le Tissier.”

Channon you say?

13 min Smallbone’s curling free-kick from 25 yards is pushed behind by the diving Meslier, a camera-friendly but essentiallly comfortable save.

Meslier comes for the resulting corner, doesn’t get there and is relieved to the see ball flash across the face of goal.

11 min Southampton enjoy their first extended spell of possession – and almost take the lead. Fraser plays an excellent first-time pass to release Armstrong on the left side of the area. His cutback towards Smallbone is crucially cut out at the near post by Rodon; the ball rebounds to Armstrong, whose snapshot is blocked.

8 min Rutter dances into the area and is well challenged by Bednarek. Southampton can’t get out.

7 min Gnonto shoots straight at McCarthy from 20 yards after a sharp Leeds move. I thought he was fouled just before shooting but the referee disagreed.

Leeds have started well; Southampton haven’t started at all.

7 min Summerville is fouled 25 yards from goal on the left wing. He takes it himself, curling the free-kick beyond the far post. Rodon heads back across goal and a Southampton defender clears.

4 min Leeds have had most of the ball in the first few minutes. Gray moves forward from right-back, cuts inside and drives a low left-foot shot from 25 yards. McCarthy watches it go harmlessly wide.

1 min Peep peep! Leeds’ Joel Piroe has the first kick of the playoff final. Leeds are kicking from right to left as we watch.

The greatest darts player in the world is also at Wembley

A reminder of the teams, who as I type are getting drenched during the pre-match formalities

Leeds (4-2-3-1) Meslier, Gray, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara; Gnonto, Rutter, Summerville; Piroe.

Substitutes: Cooper, Anthony, Shackleton, James, Byram, Darlow, Gelhardt, Roberts, Fernandez.

Southampton (4-3-3) McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Harwood-Bellis, Bednarek, Stephens; Smallbone, Downes, Aribo; Brooks, A Armstrong, Fraser.

Substitutes: Manning, Adams, Stewart, Lumley, Bree, Rothwell, Sulemana, Edozie, Charles.

Referee John Brooks.

And here’s Southampton manager Russell Martin

The players are ready, they’re calm. I’ve really enjoyed the feeling this week and this morning, and now it’s here. It’s over to them to trust each other, trust the work and put it in practice on a big occasion.

We trust the process that has got us to this point. It’s just about being aware of the occasion, because it is different. The challenge for us is always to be the team we want to be, and that challenge increases when it’s an occasion like this.

“We trust the process that has got us to this point” 🙌

Russell Martin speaks ahead of the Championship play-off final 🗣️

— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 26, 2024 The pre-match thoughts of Leeds manager Daniel Farke

It’s a big game on a big stage, the sort we all wanted to be involved in since we started playing football. It’s important to calm the nerves and to be yourself on the pitch – to play with fire and heart but be cool in the head. To find this balance is always crucial.

“This is why we all once started playing football, we wanted to be involved in important games” 🙌

Daniel Farke is excited before the play-off final 🎙️

— Sky Sports Football (@SkyFootball) May 26, 2024 It’s pouring down at Wembley, with a chance of thunderstorms during the game. Buy a few shares in shots from outside the box.

Just one more thing

“Watching Leeds in the playoffs reminds me of Colombo: we know it’ll end in defeat, but the joy is in finding out how we’ll throw it away this time,” says Alex Adams. “Leeds never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity at Wembley. But I live in hope that we’ll break that hex today.”

Failure isn’t always the best way to learn

As Nietzsche was saying

Team newsBoth teams are unchanged from the second leg of the semi-final, which makes this a very easy entry to write. Patrick Bamford hasn’t made the Leeds bench.

“Spoiler alert: Nasty Leeds fan here,” says Jeremy Boyce. “Everything crossed it goes our way, but hats off to Saints if it’s they who make it, they are a class act and have already beaten us twice this season. May the better team win, and the other one join them very soon.”

The less obvious link

This was a big result in Southampton’s ultimately successful fight against relegation. The second goal is one of the best you’ll ever see.

The other bleedin’ obvious link

(If you want to know more about this absurd story, Josh Widdicombe and Dara O’Briain did a very funny podcast on the subject.)

The bleedin’ obvious link

Louise Taylor’s preview

PreambleHello and welcome to live, minute-by-minute coverage of the Championship playoff final from Wembley. This is always a Brobdingnagian fixture, but this year it feels even bigger. That’s partly because of how good these teams have been this season, with a combined total of 177 points, and also because of how big they are. Leeds and Southampton belong in the top tier of English football, but only one of them will be there next season.

Kick off 3pm.

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