Southampton climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with the club’s first win of 2019, as James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long scored their first goals of the season at Leicester.
Saints deservedly took an 11th minute lead at the King Power Stadium when Ward-Prowse converted from the penalty spot after Long was sent tumbling by Nampalys Mendy just inside the box.
Having looked comfortable for the bulk of the first half, Saints were dealt a blow when teenage defender Yan Valery was sent off in the closing stages for a second bookable offence, but instantly responded in style as Long capitalised on another Mendy mistake to score his first goal since April.
A man light for the entire second period, Saints found themselves having to defend their lead, but Wilfred Ndidi’s goal back just shy of the hour was not enough to prevent a third victory in their last six Premier League outings.
Ralph Hasenhüttl made four changes from the Saints team that took to the field for the goalless draw at Chelsea ten days ago, including in goal, where Alex McCarthy returned after a two-match absence to replace Angus Gunn.
In front of McCarthy, Jack Stephens stepped in for Maya Yoshida, who is away on Asian Cup duty, while Matt Targett was preferred to Cédric at left wing-back.
At the other end, with Danny Ings, Charlie Austin and Michael Obafemi all unavailable and Manolo Gabbiadini transferred to Sampdoria, Long was the obvious choice to lead the line.
Saints started brightly and Leicester could have no complaints when Ward-Prowse ended his 11-month goal drought from the penalty spot 11 minutes in.
By that point Saints had already enjoyed three sights of goal. Stuart Armstrong dragged a low shot wide from 20 yards, before Nathan Redmond ran at Harry Maguire and fed Armstrong to his left, whose strike was deflected into the side-netting by Mendy.
Long headed over from the resulting corner, before he was pushed by the raised arm of Mendy just inside the box as the Irishman cleverly got his body between man and ball.
Up stepped Ward-Prowse to beat Kasper Schmeichel, with just enough power on the spot-kick to elude the keeper’s grasp as he dived to his right.
The in-form Redmond was proving a problem for Leicester. He was too quick for James Maddison on the left touchline, as a cynical tug earned the Foxes’ midfielder a booking, while Jannik Vestergaard’s marauding run out of defence illustrated the confidence with which Saints were playing.
Hasenhüttl’s men looked remarkably comfortable. When Ben Chilwell’s miscontrol needlessly conceded a corner, the England left-back was nearly punished as Stephens met Ward-Prowse’s delivery at the near post only to be denied by the flying Schmeichel.
The hosts finally gave Saints something to worry about when Chilwell’s cross was headed wide by Maguire, before Wes Morgan pounced on a loose ball at a set-piece and prodded past McCarthy, but Jan Bednarek was there to preserve the lead with a crucial goal-line clearance, punching the air like a striker celebrating a goal.
For the first time in the game, Saints looked a little uncomfortable, and were temporarily rocked by the dismissal of Valery in the 44th minute.
Having already been booked for an altercation with Chilwell, the Frenchman pulled back Marc Albrighton and left referee Michael Oliver with no alternative.
But rather than just getting through to half time unscathed, Saints doubled their lead in added time to shock the King Power Stadium.
McCarthy’s long kick downfield was headed up rather than away by Ricardo Pereira, before Long forced Mendy into another mistake and robbed him of possession, surging into the box and beating Schmeichel from the inside-left channel. Again, the Dane got a touch but could not keep it out.
Hasenhüttl opted against a half-time substitution despite Valery’s departure, instead taking Ward-Prowse out of the midfield to play as an emergency wing-back, but opposite number Puel was clearly unhappy and not prepared to wait to change things.
On came the youthful enthusiasm of Demarai Gray and Harvey Barnes to inject some life into his team, with Mendy and Albrighton the men sacrificed.
Straightaway there was more intent about the home side, as McCarthy was forced to make saves from Maguire and Maddison from distance.
Cédric was introduced with the hour mark approaching, restoring Ward-Prowse to his natural midfield berth as Armstrong was sacrificed, but within seconds Leicester were back in the game, as Pereira galloped to the byeline and crossed for Ndidi to bundle the ball over the line.
Saints had done well to keep Jamie Vardy quiet to this point, but the striker was hunting a penalty as he went down under the challenge of Stephens, before glancing a header wide from Maddison’s right-wing cross.
Still Leicester were restricted to half-chances, as Maddison tried his luck from outside the box a couple more times, while Hasenhüttl handed a Premier League debut to Callum Slattery and a rest to Long as the minutes ticked by.
The Foxes were awarded a corner midway through four minutes of stoppage time, for which Schmeichel was forward and Sam Gallagher introduced to offer Saints extra height, but when Ndidi headed wide at the near post, Leicester were beaten.