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Soccer-Stunning Ward-Prowse free kick earns Southampton draw at Leeds

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By Reuters
Soccer-Stunning Ward-Prowse free kick earns Southampton draw at Leeds
Soccer-Stunning Ward-Prowse free kick earns Southampton draw at Leeds   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2022

LEEDS, England -James Ward-Prowse scored a trademark free kick as Southampton rescued a Premier League point at Leeds United in a 1-1 draw on Saturday, a game in which England international Kalvin Phillips returned from a lengthy injury layoff.

Jack Harrison gave Leeds a first-half lead when he poked the ball in from six yards after Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster failed to deal with a Raphinha cross, and the home side created a number of opportunities to increase their advantage.

But after Kyle Walker-Peters embarked on a dazzling run that was only ended by a foul on the edge of the box, Ward-Prowse netted his seventh Premier League goal of the season with a pin-point set-piece shot.

“It was a balanced match, we did not give much away,” Leeds manager Jesse Marsch told reporters. “We are still just trying to turn advantages into real chances and chances into goals.

“With this style we will always create chances, but if we could slow ourselves down and find a way to make the last pass (count). Crisper and cleaner would mean more goals.”

Diego Llorente headed inches wide from a corner and Dan James forced a good save from Forster as Leeds dominated the chances but failed to find a second goal that would have given them all three points and their third win in a row.

The draw is nevertheless a useful one as they look to move away from the relegation zone. Leeds are in 16th place with 30 points from 31 games, eight points above third-bottom Watford. Southampton stayed in 11th place with 36 points from 30 games.

Marsch got a major boost when he was able to introduce midfielder Phillips with 25 minutes to go, in the first appearance since early December for a player likely to be vital in the final weeks of the season.

“His work ethic, professionalism and desire is fantastic,” Marsch said “He is a pleasure to work with and the goal is to push him and make him more intense.

“We want to expand his role from a leadership perspective, if he does that and we are going to see him get better and better.”