Soccer

Ipswich super sub Jeremy Sarmiento nets late winner against sorry Southampton

A packed Portman Road hosted this eagerly-anticipated encounter between a pair of sides pushing for a place in the Premier League next season.

Jeremy Sarmiento netted a late winner for Ipswich
Jeremy Sarmiento celebrates for Ipswich Jeremy Sarmiento netted a late winner for Ipswich (John Walton/PA)

Super sub Jeremy Sarmiento secured Sky Bet Championship comeback kings Ipswich a stunning 3-2 stoppage-time win against profligate Southampton to go back to the top of the table.

A packed Portman Road hosted this eagerly-anticipated Easter Monday encounter between a pair of sides pushing for a place in the Premier League next season.

Che Adams and Adam Armstrong put Southampton on course for a much-needed win after Leif Davis’ stunning opener, but all too familiar wastefulness cost Russell Martin’s men dearly.

Substitute Nathan Broadhead levelled and James Bree’s 85th-minute sending off for dragging back Davis made for a nervy final conclusion.

Ipswich looked set to fall short but Kieran McKenna’s men never give up, epitomised by Sarmiento recovering from a slip to direct the ball home in the seventh and final minute of stoppage time to spark bedlam.

As for Southampton, their continued inability to capitalise when on top means their faint automatic promotion hopes are now all but over.

It was the perfect end to the night for Ipswich and their fans – including onwatching Ed Sheeran – and follows a dream start.

Sam Morsy showed skill and awareness to float a ball out to Davis, with the full-back continuing to laser a stunning shot past Gavin Bazunu at his near post in the 13th minute.

Leif Davis put Ipswich ahead in style
Leif Davis put Ipswich ahead in style Leif Davis put Ipswich ahead in style (John Walton/PA)

It was a quite wonderful hit met by an immediate Saints riposte.

Quick build-up played ended with Joe Aribo prodding forwards for Adams to sweep home a 14th-minute equaliser from six yards. Ipswich fans and players appealed for offside, unaware that Davis had played on the Saints striker.

Martin’s men took confidence from that equaliser and went ahead midway through the first half.

The visitors moved from back to front, with Stuart Armstrong bursting forward and continuing to play an exceptional ball through for Adam Armstrong to beat Vaclav Hladky with a first-time finish.

Ipswich offered little in terms of response beyond a Conor Chaplin strike into the ground and then lost influential Kieffer Moore to injury.

Ryan Fraser sent a shot across the face of goal and Adam Armstrong curled an effort over as the first half came to an end, with Southampton continuing dangerously after the break.

Hladky did brilliantly to stop Jan Bednarek heading in a free-kick, before the Ipswich goalkeeper saved a low shot from Adam Armstrong.

The Czech shot-stopper also blocked a Fraser effort but the longer Saints failed to extend their lead, the more chance there was for Ipswich to pull level.

Half of Portman Road thought they had in the 66th minute when substitute Ali Al-Hamadi skipped past his man and hit the post from the edge of the box.

Southampton failed to heed that warning and two minutes later were made to pay as Broadhead hit a hopeful low shot from just inside the box on the turn that beat Bazunu down low to his left.

Play swung from end to end as these promotion contenders sought a winner, with Saints reduced to 10 men in the 85th minute. Bree hauled back Davis just outside the box and referee Michael Salisbury handed out a red card.

The tension inside the ground was palpable as both sides pushed until the end, with a late David Brooks cross stopped and Broadhead attempt saved.

Seven minute of stoppage time were announced and Sarmiento struck at the death, beating Bazunu to spark wild celebrations, having recovered from an initial slip to score.