Ralph Hasenhüttl fears Tino Livramento suffered a “very, very serious” knee injury during Southampton’s draw at Brighton.
Southampton overcame the setback of Livramento’s nasty first-half injury and falling two goals behind as two fine James Ward-Prowse goals salvaged a point.
Danny Welbeck’s early finish and a calamitous own goal from Mohammed Salisu looked set to condemn Hasenhüttl’s team to a sixth league defeat from eight games.
But, with the visitors’ frustrations heightened by Livramento striking a post and then being carried off on a stretcher at 1-0 after twisting awkwardly, Ward-Prowse’s strikes from distance earned a deserved result.
Hasenhüttl said of Livramento’s injury: “I cannot tell you what the diagnosis is, but it looks very, very serious. He’s very down, the guy, but we all know that he will come back even stronger.”
Southampton, like Brighton, retain hope of a top-half finish and Hasenhüttl was delighted with his players’ response to adversity.
“We saw a very intense game; a very, very horrible start for us with the goal after two minutes, a chance for an equalizer that hits the post, a very, very bad injury and a second goal where we kick it in our own goal,” the manager said.
“There is not much more to climb than we had first half. You said last week that the guys seem to be on the beach. I think today they showed they are not, that they want to achieve more than only 40 points. Today we showed a very, very good reaction and it definitely helped that we made it 2-1 before half-time with a beautiful free-kick.”
Ward-Prowse claimed the 14th top-flight free-kick goal of his career in the fourth of five added minutes at the end of the first half in which Livramento received lengthy treatment on the pitch after collapsing as he attempted to challenge the midfielder Enock Mwepu .
The Southampton captain bent the ball in via the left post, before drilling home from the edge of the Brighton penalty area early in the second half.
“The free-kick was amazing,” Hasenhüttl said of Ward-Prowse, who is four behind David Beckham’s Premier League record of 18 goals from direct free-kicks. “It’s super tough for every goalkeeper in the moment; they don’t know what is coming up.”
Brighton have not won at home since Boxing Day and had failed to score in their previous five matches here. Hasenhüttl sensed a mental fragility from the hosts, which his team exposed.
“We kept the pressure high on them and we knew about the history they had in their own ground, where they haven’t won a lot of games this season,” he said. “It was clear they are a little bit struggling mentally and we tried to use this fact and absolutely deserved the equalizer.”
Brighton had made a blistering start and led after 76 seconds. Southampton’s goalkeeper, Fraser Forster, failed to gather Marc Cucurella’s low cross from the left as Mwepu challenged, leaving Welbeck with the task of stabbing into the empty net.
Forster superbly denied Welbeck his second from close range before Brighton doubled their advantage in the 44th minute. Leandro Trossard attempted to thread a pass to Welbeck and Salisu clumsily diverted the ball into his own goal via a post.
“I’m frustrated with the first goal for them because it was a bit of a ball from nothing and we didn’t defend it so well,” said Brighton’s head coach, Graham Potter, who also saw substitute Pascal Gross have a late strike disallowed for offside.
“We give a free-kick in a place where we know James is very dangerous. I think that probably affected them positively and us negatively at the start of the second half.