Player ratings as Saints denied point late on

Southampton were denied a valuable point late on as they fell 2-1 to Fulham on New Year’s Eve.

Nathan Jones’ Saints were the better side for much of the day but were wasteful at both ends and leave west London empty handed.

A tight opening saw Che Adams attempt to break the deadlock with an audacious 50-yard effort having seen Bernd Leno stray off his line, but his strike was wayward.

The home fans thought Willian had given them a 12th-minute lead when he flashed a half-volley at Gavin Bazunu’s near post, but it brushed the paint of the upright and went behind for a goal kick.

Adams again went close for the Saints on the counter, beating the offside trap and racing in to face Leno, who dangled a leg at his shot to deflect the shot wide.

From the resulting corner, Adams was at the heart of Southampton’s menace again, with Joao Palhinha putting in a last-ditch block to prevent the Scotland international from finding the net.

The visitors were continuing to make the better chances, with Samuel Edozie playing a neat one-two with Adams and firing down the throat of Leno before Mohamed Elyounoussi’s searing shot nearly found the top corner.

A low cross from Antonee Robinson managed to evade Bazunu but was cleared just in time by Armel Bella-Kotchap, and from the following corner, Fulham took the lead. Willian’s clever cutback was volleyed on by Andreas Pereira, and James Ward-Prowse’s failed clearance saw the ball loop up and into the top corner.

Fulham came close to doubling the advantage just after half-time, with Pereira somehow firing a cross from Bobby De Cordova-Reid up and past the far post.

Soon after, Southampton found a leveller through skipper Ward-Prowse, whose 25-yard free-kick dipped up and over the wall, with Leno only managing to get his fingertips to it.

The Saints nearly went ahead almost immediately after drawing level, with Ward-Prowse picking out Edozie in space, only for Leno and the retreating Kenny Tete to deny the winger.

Tete again had to be alert when Edozie looked to latch onto a loose ball round the back of the Fulham defence, with the Dutchman sliding in and poking it behind for a corner.

With under five minutes remaining, Fulham edged themselves back in front through Palhinha, who met Tete’s flick-on from a Pereira corner.

Deep into stoppage time, Dan James was brought down by Bazunu and Fulham were awarded a penalty. The Irishman made amends by saving Aleksandar Mitrovic’s spot kick, but Southampton were unable to find an equaliser in the game’s remaining seconds.

GK: Bernd Leno (6); RB: Kenny Tete (7), CB: Issa Diop (6), CB: Tim Ream (5), LB: Antonee Robinson (6); CM: Harrison Reed (5); CM: Joao Palhinha (8); RM: Bobby De Cordova-Reid (5), AM: Andreas Pereira (6), LM: Willian (7); CF: Aleksandar Mitrovic (4)

Subs: Tom Cairney (6), Dan James (4), Tosin Adarabioyo (N/A)

Manager: Andre Silva (6)

GK: Gavin Bazunu (6); CB: Armel Bella-Kotchap (6), CB: Lyanco (3), CB: Mohammed Salisu (6); RM: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (7), CM: James Ward-Prowse (7), CM: Mohamed Elyounoussi (6), LM: Kyle Walker-Peters (6); RF: Joe Aribo (6), LF: Samuel Edozie (7); CF: Che Adams (6)

Subs: Stuart Armstrong (4), Romain Perraud (5), Sekou Mara (N/A), Adam Armstrong (N/A), Romeo Lavia (N/A)

Manager: Nathan Jones (6)

Player of the Match – Joao Palhinha