Danny Ings in focus: Striker gets Southampton back to winning ways

Amarachi Orie takes an in-depth look at Danny Ings’ performance that helped seal Southampton’s 2-1 win at Brighton and move them up to fifth in the Premier League. 

Danny Ings returned from injury to score the winning goal for Southampton in their away game against Brighton on Monday night. Ings sustained a knee injury while playing against Aston Villa at the start of November. Now, on the day that 2000 fans were allowed back into the Amex Stadium, Ings made sure his comeback was the most notable of all, bringing his team back to winning ways.

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Ings spent the first half on the bench. Southampton had a slow start to the game and struggled to go forward. After all, the home fans were on the side of the Seagulls. James Ward-Prowse, who has been nominated for November’s Premier League player of the month award, conceded a penalty after a handball. This was converted by Pascal Gross in the 26th minute. The visitors had lost to Manchester United in their previous match and it looked as if it was about to be another woeful day for them.

Southampton are a team, however, that manage to get goals even on their bad days. On the stroke of half-time, Ward-Prowse took a corner which was blasted into the net with a towering header by Jannik Vestergaard. The midfielder made up for his previous wrongdoing and helped set up the team for a more prosperous second half.

Ings was substituted on for the second half and the change in his team’s dynamic was highly visible. Unlike the lacklustre performance of the Saints for the majority of the first half, they began this time with energy and purpose. Three minutes in, the England international was defending the goalpost after a Brighton free-kick. He was not intimidated by the Brighton fans in the stadium, and made Southampton more active and competitive by being sharp in his movement and clever in his positioning.

After being fed the ball by Nathan Redmond in the 73rd minute, Ings single-handedly kept the ball alive in the box. In the tight space he was in, Ings juggled the ball with his right foot and flicked it over the Brighton defenders so that Redmond could take a shot at goal. Although it did not materialise, this moment showed the quality and willingness to be on the ball that Southampton had been missing.

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A controversial penalty decision then led to Ings, the driving force of the home side, taking centre stage. A foul by Solly March on Kyle Walker-Peters at the edge of the box was deemed to be worthy of a free-kick by the referee. However, after a long look by VAR, the decision was overturned and Southampton were awarded a penalty. Amid the boos from the home fans, Ings stepped up and converted it to win the match for his team in the 81st minute.

This was Ings’s 13th goal in 17 appearances, his sixth this season. Brighton might have been able to hold Liverpool to ransom in their last match but, here, they succumbed to the will of the Southampton striker. It is clear that Ings needed no time to get back into form – he impressed right away. He is the Saints’ top scorer this season, even with the time he spent out with injury. 

Before their loss to United, the Saints had not lost a match since September. Ings was quick to return them to their winning ways. Thanks to him, Southampton have moved up to fifth place on the Premier League table, only four points below leaders Tottenham. With their star striker fit and back on the pitch, a desire to chase top four does not seem so far-fetched.

Follow Amarachi on Twitter @iamarachii

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