No excuses for Liam Cooper as Saints exploit depleted Leeds United

Captain Liam Cooper has backed Leeds United to learn lessons from their dismal display during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton.

Marcelo Bielsa’s depleted side failed to register an attempt on goal in a lacklustre outing at St Mary’s as a maiden Premier League goal from Saints striker Armando Broja proved decisive.

The visitors were without England midfielder Kalvin Phillips and Brazil winger Raphinha on the south coast due to injury and international commitments respectively.

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Defender Cooper was reluctant to pin the uninspiring loss on the absence of the influential duo and says his side will respond at home to Wolves next weekend.

Armando Broja of Southampton scores their winning goal against Leeds United at St Mary's Stadium. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

“You go one behind in this league and it’s always hard to come back,” the 30-year-old told LUTV. “We stuck at it, I suppose that’s the only positive we can take, really,

“You can’t go giving first-half performances away like that and we’ve got to learn from it.

“Obviously we’re missing a couple of players but that’s just how it is, that’s how it goes. You take two of the dominant players out of any team in the league, they feel it.

“But we don’t use it as an excuse, we can’t use that.

Daniel James of Leeds United reacts after a missed chance. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

“The lads train every single day together and whoever comes in is expected to reach those standards and we had belief in everybody.

“We’ll analyse where we’ve gone wrong and what we’ve got to do to put it right.

“If there’s any team in the league who’s going to analyse it and put it right, it’s us.”

Victory for Southampton ended a nine-match winless run in the top-flight dating back to last term and moved them a point above their opponents.

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl expressed doubt ahead of kick-off about whether Chelsea loanee Broja was ready to start top-flight games.

But the Slough-born Albania striker responded in emphatic fashion, capping a scintillating display by powerfully finishing a flowing breakaway goal in the 53rd minute.

Victory for Saints ended a nine-match winless league run dating back to last season to lift them a point above their below-par opponents.

The West Yorkshire club arrived in Hampshire buoyed by a first league success of the campaign after beating Watford a fortnight ago. However, the loss of England midfielder Phillips and Brazil winger Raphinha –who scored a brace against Uruguay in the early hours of Friday morning – forced Marcelo Bielsa into a reshuffle while adding to a noteworthy list of absentees.

Southampton, missing suspended captain James Ward-Prowse, made five changes, including handing a first top-flight start to Broja, who been ineligible for the 3-1 defeat to his parent club at Stamford Bridge last time out.

The lively 20-year-old caused the visitors plenty of problems during an opening period dominated by the hosts.

He headed narrowly wide from an inswinging Nathan Redmond corner, before the pair combined in similar circumstances just two minutes later, with the diving Mohamed Elyounoussi inches away from applying a finishing touch at the far post.

Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier had pushed away a low effort from Redmond in between those near misses and, later, used his legs to repel Broja after Pascal Struijk made a mess of a long ball forward.

Saints manager Hasenhuttl warned ahead of kick-off that the quality of the encounter would not be a “five-star dinner”, while also calling for his low-scoring side to be “nasty”.

Leeds produced nothing of note from an attacking perspective in the first 45 minutes but, with an inexperienced bench at his disposal, Bielsa initially opted against changes.

The Argentinian tactician finally saw his side threaten when Jack Harrison’s shot was blocked by Mohammed Salisu, before they were caught out on the break. Redmond was sent racing towards goal by a defence-splitting pass from Moussa Djenepo before unselfishly squaring across for goal for the unmarked Broja to gleefully lash into the roof of the net.

Elyounoussi almost doubled the advantage when he curled marginally wide, before Salisu was relieved to see Dan James direct the ball off target at the other end following a rare defensive lapse

Broja then limped off the pitch to rapturous applause having been clattered by Cooper in the process of scoring the goal.

Leeds’s vocal away following retained hope of a late leveller and continued to urge their side forward. But, despite being given five minutes of added time to chase a share of the spoils, the home side comfortably held on for a welcome three points.

Southampton: McCarthy, Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Perraud, Elyounoussi (Tella 90), Diallo, Romeu, Djenepo (Stuart Armstrong 59), Broja (Walcott 81), Redmond. Unused substitutes: Walker-Peters, Lyanco, Long, Adam Armstrong, Valery, Forster.

Leeds: Meslier, Llorente, Struijk, Cooper, Shackleton, Klich (Gelhardt 77), Roberts (Summerville 81), Dallas, Harrison, Rodrigo (Forshaw 64), James. Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Hjelde, Cresswell, Drameh, McKinstry, Greenwood.

Referee: D Coote (Nottinghamshire).