'Pathetic' - Russell Martin's furious rant after Leicester defeat leaves Southampton adrift of Leeds United

Southampton look set for play-offs with Leicester's thumping win leaving Leeds United and Ipswich Town set to battle for second-place.
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Russell Martin suggested his Southampton side went into ‘self-preservation mode’ during their dismal 5-0 thrashing at Leicester City.

Southampton endured a torrid night at the King Power Stadium with defeat leaving them six points adrift of Leeds United with just two games remaining. Leicester winger Abdul Fatawu was the hat-trick hero on the night, with Wilfred Ndidi and Jamie Vardy also netting on a brilliant evening for the hosts. All of Leicester’s goals were avoidable from Southampton’s point of view as a concerning lack of urgency saw them thrashed.

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Defeat for Southampton all but ended any hope of a top-two finish, with a vastly inferior goal difference making it almost impossible to catch Leeds. The manner of the defeat will concern Martin, who saw his side carved open all too often. The former Swansea boss has often shown his raw emotion post-match and pulled no punches on his own players.

“We were in the game at 1-0, started the second-half so well but our moves didn't come to enough and we defended pathetically after going two goals down,” Martin told Sky Sports after the defeat. “I thought it was a high-level game in the first-half, very tactical, both teams pressing well, both struggled getting a real flow with the ball because it was two aggressive teams without the ball. 

“Second-half, I loved the energy we started with, we caused some real problems but the second goal takes the sting out. You need to regroup at that point but we didn't and what happened after that, we went into self-preservation mode individually. That's the worst thing you can do in football, try to protect yourself and feel like you're doing just enough in your bit rather than helping your team. I don't like that trait in my team one bit and that really hurts.”

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Consecutive defeats have come at the worst time for Southampton, who also lost at Cardiff City on Saturday and will now almost certainly face the drama of play-off football. Martin faces a massive challenge in picking his side up after the defeat and has two games remaining to do so, the last of which comes at Leeds.

Leicester are now four points clear of Leeds in second and five ahead of Ipswich Town, with an instant return to the Premier League now looking highly likely. Victory at Preston North End on Monday would secure automatic promotion and four points from their final two games would see the title at the King Power Stadium.

Leeds now look set to battle directly with Ipswich Town for the second automatic promotion place and the Whites can pull four points clear in second with victory at Queens Park Rangers on Friday, with Monday’s 4-3 win at Middlesbrough putting the Whites back into second-place. Kieran McKenna’s side will have two games in hand but face tricky away trips to Hull City and Coventry with all the pressure on.

Daniel Farke’s men host Southampton on the final day and will hope to see a performance similar to tonight at Elland Road. Ipswich host Huddersfield Town, who will likely be fighting to survive.