Manolo Gabbiadini’s strike means the Swans are now three points adrift of Southampton – and safety – and will go into Sunday’s final game of the season occupying the final relegation spot.
Southampton took a huge stride towards securing their Premier League survival and simultaneously relegated West Brom with victory at Swansea City, who are now perilously close to joining the Baggies in the Championship.
Southampton’s considerably better goal difference over Swansea means even a defeat at Manchester City will keep them up, as long as the Swans don’t make up a nine-goal swing when they face Stoke.
Huddersfield is 17th, level on points with Southampton, but have a game in hand at Chelsea on Wednesday – a point at Stamford Bridge would be enough to keep the Terriers up.
With so much at stake, both sides seemed gripped with anxiety in a goalless first half which produced only a handful of chances at either end.
The tension increased after the break as Saints keeper Alex McCarthy saved brilliantly from Jordan Ayew before Charlie Austin missed one glorious opportunity as he directed a free header straight at Lukasz Fabianski.
Fabianski thwarted Austin again from a corner in the 73rd minute but, from the rebound, substitute Gabbiadini bundled the ball in to spark manic celebrations in the away end.
Saints all but seal survival after hotel confusion. A match of this enormity did not need its fires stoking, but it was given an added layer of intrigue with the news that Southampton’s stay at their hotel in Swansea was cancelled at the last minute, meaning they had to stay at a different venue near Cardiff.
The hotel said they followed “normal procedures” after an illness outbreak. Despite having less possession for much of the game, the Saints had the two best chances to score but on both occasions, Austin saw his efforts saved by Fabianski.
The striker was a reliable outlet for the visitors, though his service was sporadic as neither team was able to play with much coherence. The longer the game remained goalless, the more the tension rose to almost unbearable levels.
Knowing a draw might not be enough with a fixture against Manchester City to come on Sunday, Hughes decided to go for broke and brought on striker Gabbiadini for defender Jan Bednarek.
It proved an inspired move, with the Italian scoring within five minutes of his introduction to take Southampton within touching distance of Premier League safety.
Source: BBC News