SAINTS imploded in the second-half at Leicester City to see the home side victorious 4-1 in the final match of the 2021-22 Premier League season.

A dull first 45’ saw the scores level at half-time, but James Maddison opened in controversial fashion after a Lyanco howler with his fourth goal in successive matches and Jamie Vardy haunted taunting Saints fans to rinse the Brazilian defender and slot a second.

James Ward-Prowse scored his 10th goal of the Premier League season from the penalty spot to give Saints a chance, but Ayoze Perez finished on the volley at the back-post seconds after to quell the resistance.

Perez then added his second deep into stoppage time, finishing off a slick move and ball across from Ricardo Pereira.

The result meant Saints finished the season on 40 points, three fewer than they had amassed last campaign – but in the same position, 15th, after just one win in the final 12 matches.

Three changes to Ralph Hasenhuttl’s XI saw Oriol Romeu, Stuart Armstrong and Adam Armstrong return to the side from the 3-0 defeat at Leicester, with the trio benched when Liverpool visited midweek.

And with the number nine’s return, there was no Armando Broja in the squad for what could have been is final Saints game – his loan from Chelsea set to expire – as he watched on from the stands.

Fraser Forster was again absent and could have already played his last game for Saints, while Shane Long was on the bench ahead of his anticipated summer exit, with contracts expiring.

Leicester’s Timothy Castagne headed over from close-range early on to let Saints off the hook, as they settled into a bizarre lineup that appeared to change inside the first few minutes.

It looked as though Nathan Redmond would play at left-wing-back as he did versus Liverpool, but that soon changed to the 4-2-2-2 with Mohammed Salisu deputising as the full-back.

McCarthy nearly had a blunder with the ball at his feet early on, and Jamie Vardy later looked to win a penalty anticipating contact from Lyanco inside the area, but the Brazilian responded sharply to expose the striker’s antics and avoid concession of a foul.

And it looked relatively well poised going into the break after a dull half at 0-0, but the truth was that Saints had only attempted two shots – an impossible header from Armstrong and a speculative strike from James Ward-Prowse – and had created very little.

It swung in the home side’s favour immediately after the break through a pair of failed attempted headers back from Lyanco, latched onto by Vardy and well saved – but only falling to Maddison to slot in.

The Saints players did not get the VAR intervention they wanted, insisting a drop ball had been awarded the wrong way by referee Jon Moss in the build-up. Harvey Barnes could have squared to Vardy for a second soon after, but went alone and was marshalled by Lyanco.

Saints were dealt another blow as Armstrong’s game ended early following a collision and bleeding from the head, and despite trying to play on he was unable to continue – Che Adams his replacement.

Vardy compiled that to school Lyanco, skip past him in the area and slot under Alex McCarthy for the second with just over 15 minutes to play – then running to the Saints supporters, who had been chanting about the Wagatha Christie court case earlier in the day, to display his shirt name and number.

Saints were awarded an instant way back in, with Stuart Armstrong fouled in the area and Ward-Prowse stepping up to score.

No sooner than the gap had been reduced to one, substitute Perez scissored in at the back-post and restored the two-goal advantage, adding his second in the dying moments – and securing all three points would stay in Leicestershire.

Saints: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Stephens, Salisu; Romeu (Smallbone, 90), Ward-Prowse; S Armstrong, Elyounoussi (Djenepo, 71); Redmond (Long, 82), A Armstrong (Adams, 62).

Unused subs: Bednarek, Valery, Diallo, Walcott, Caballero (g/k).

Booked: Romeu

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Justin, Fofana, Evans, Castagne (Pereira, 69); Mendy, Tielemans, Dewsbury-Hall (Perez, 62); Maddison (Amartey, 81), Barnes (Lookman, 76), Vardy.

Unused subs: Soyuncu, Albrighton, Lookman, Daka, Ward (g/k).

Referee: Jon Moss.

VAR: Graham Scott.

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