Che Adams and Southampton hit back to deepen Leicester’s troubles

Leicester’s inauspicious start to the season continued as Che Adams stepped off the bench to secure Southampton a comeback victory in style. As second-half introductions go, Adams’s could not have gone much better and only the woodwork prevented the striker from completing a hat-trick in stoppage time as swathes of Leicester supporters headed for the exits.

It proved an inspired substitution by the Southampton manager, Ralph Hasenhüttl. Some slack Leicester defending allowed Adams to cancel out James Maddison’s second-half free-kick but his second goal, the lesser-spotted scissor-kick from James Ward-Prowse’s devious first-time cross, was a thing of beauty.

Leicester remain winless and Brendan Rodgers acknowledged that a degree of anxiety and desperation sapped his players. The bad news for him is that next up is a potentially awkward Carabao Cup trip to Stockport on Tuesday before a visit to Chelsea, whose pursuit of Wesley Fofana led Rodgers to omit the Frenchman from his matchday squad.

Rodgers said the 21-year-old defender was “not quite in the right frame of mind” to feature. “There is a lot going on behind the scenes, which I understand,” he said.

“He’s a good kid, he’s been great for us while he has been here and at this moment it’s a difficult one. You can’t afford to be around your teammates and playing in a Premier League game if you’re not 100% focused. This situation was pretty straightforward because there is so much going on in his mind.”

Leicester have rejected two bids from Chelsea for Fofana, who has made clear of his wish to move, and are braced for a third. Leicester want a fee of about £80m. Fofana was in the stands, happily posing for photos with fans and signing autographs.

He applauded Maddison’s curled free-kick, which flew in at the near post of Gavin Bazunu, one of four summer signings aged 20 or under to feature in Southampton’s starting lineup.

Hasenhüttl was pleased Maddison’s strike did not prove decisive given Bazunu’s lopsided wall allowed the Leicester midfielder to take advantage, but praised his team’s spirit. On the final day of last season they folded in a 4-1 defeat.

“We didn’t accept that we cannot take something here,” he said. “We had a very young team on the pitch and with the back four and goalkeeper we are super-young. I have to give them the biggest of respect for what they have done. The rest of the team was also fighting really hard. We were super-believing in what we were doing.”

Harvey Barnes returned on the left flank after a knee injury as Rodgers shifted to the 4-3-3 he trialled in pre-season and Jamie Vardy led the line after signing a two-year contract extension that will take him to the age of 37.

Leicester had their moments. Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall was bright but Ayoze Pérez struggled and should have done better when screwing a volley wide at the back post.

Leicester had dominated before conceding a soft equaliser and Adams cupped his ear to the away support after wheeling away in celebration. The goal was painful from their perspective, with Armel Bella-Kotchap, another summer signing, flicking Mohammed Salisu’s long throw into on to Adams, who was free in the box to hammer home.

The winner stemmed from Kyle Walker-Peters roaming down the right and then cutting the ball back for Ward-Prowse, whose cross was typically inviting.

Hasenhüttl’s emotions led him on to the pitch in celebration. Kolo Touré rushed into the technical area to offer words of encouragement.

For Leicester, who threw away a two-goal lead at home to Brentford on the opening day, it was another agonising finish. “We hoped to make improvements from the last time we were here in terms of managing the lead better and unfortunately we were unable to do that,” Rodgers said.