Leeds United left in tears as 49ers suffer £140m blow and Rishi Sunak rubs it in - 5 things

Leeds United have suffered further play-off final heartbreak following a 1-0 defeat against Southampton at Wembley.

Adam Armstrong scored the only goal of the game midway through the first half after latching onto Will Smallbone's through ball to leave Leeds stuck in the Championship.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

READ MORE: Leeds United player ratings with Piroe, Summerville and Gnonto poor

READ MORE: What Daniel Farke said at his press conference

Defensive lapse proves costly as Armstrong strikes again

It was a fitting final test for this Leeds defence this season. To earn a place in the Premier League, the Whites had to keep out a top-flight striker in Adam Armstrong. Leeds certainly needed no introduction to Armstrong, who scored in both of the previous meetings, and who has been directly involved in more goals than any other player in the second-tier.

However, you would not have thought this Leeds side had recently come up against Armstrong. Or that they had kept more clean sheets than any other side in the Championship. Or that they were fresh from recording back-to-back shutouts against Norwich City. In truth, Leeds were cut open far too easily in the first half on Sunday - even before Southampton's opener.

Southampton fired an early warning shot in the 12th minute when Armstrong breached Leeds' offside trap and pulled the ball across the box. Joe Rodon managed to get there first, as Will Smallbone lurked, to cut out the danger.

However, Southampton made Leeds' shaky defensive line pay with their next attack midway through the first half. The influential Smallbone's through ball cut Leeds open, after Ethan Ampadu stepped forward, and Armstrong beat the offside trap once more before finishing clinically past Illan Meslier. In a game of few clear cut chances, it proved a decisive strike. These are the margins at this level.

Dan James denied to leave Leeds players in tears

The first goal is always crucial, but even more so in a game like this. Excluding 0-0s, the side who have taken the lead have gone on to be promoted in each of the last dozen Championship play-off finals; Leeds, as ever, were going to have to do it the hard way after going behind in the first half.

Daniel Farke could at least take solace in the fact his side had won 25 points from losing positions this season - only promoted Ipswich won more - and Leeds were going to have to summon the spirit that saw them come from 1-0 down against Leicester City and score three goals late on back in February.

They regrouped at the break and quickly put Southampton under some pressure early in the second half. Nothing summed up the slight change in momentum quite like substitute Samuel Edozie failing to pick out Will Smallbone with a relatively straightforward pass in the final third after the hour mark. The ball instead bobbled out for a goal kick.

However, for all Leeds' possession after the break, it was Edozie who had a big chance to double his side's advantage after being played through one-on-one, but the forward fired over.

Was that going to prove a crucial moment? Was there going to be a late twist? Well it looked like that might be the case in the 84th minute when Daniel James let fly - but the substitute's venomous volley crashed off the underside of the bar. It was inches away.

There was still time for James, bandaged up following a nasty clash of heads, to have another pop right at the death but, this time, Alex McCarthy parried the ball away. That was that. The sound of the final whistle was the cue for a number of Leeds players to drop to the turf and break into tears.

Two measly shots on target sums up attacking threat

Just three points separated these sides in the Championship. Both teams had enjoyed unbelievable unbeaten runs at various points of the season. It was one of the second-tier's most deadly attacks against one of the league's meanest defences. It was Crysencio Summerville versus Adam Armstrong.

No wonder it was the toughest play-off final to call in years. No wonder Daniel Farke spoke about how the final details his side worked on ahead of this game 'can make a big difference'. It was Southampton who ultimately got those details right.

Going into this game, Southampton had averaged the highest share of possession (66%) across England’s top four tiers this season. Remarkably, only Manchester City had recorded more passes and more sequences of 10+ passes per game than the Saints in 2023-24.

If there was one team who were going to look to maximise the dimensions of the Wembley pitch, it was Russell Martin's team. "We can definitely affect their players' energy on the pitch by the way that we play," the Southampton boss warned.

However, Leeds, pressing high from the off, did not let Southampton settle into their passing rhythm and the Saints repeatedly gave the ball away under pressure in the early stages. Jan Bednarek even booted the ball out of play from his own throw-in after just five minutes.

That visibly gave Leeds encouragement but Daniel Farke's team failed to seriously test goalkeeper Alex McCarthy during that early period of pressure with Archie Gray firing wide early on and Wilfried Gnonto having a shot comfortably saved. It was a familiar theme as the game wore on.

There was no one to get on the end of a teasing Gray cross when the score was still goalless. Then, after going behind, Leeds wasted a glorious opportunity after breaking at pace from a Southampton corner when Gray could not find a team-mate with a potential 3 v 1 in the offing.

The rampaging Joe Rodon took matters into his own hands immediately after the break when the defender dribbled into the box, but Taylor Harwood-Bellis made a huge tackle just as the Wales international was about to pull the trigger. Summerville, the Championship's player of the year, then fired wide before putting a 57th-minute free-kick over the bar a short while later. Remarkably, for all their possession and territory, Leeds had just one measly shot on target until the closing stages.

Farke turned to his bench midway through the second half, throwing on Daniel James for Wilfried Gnonto, and again in the 73rd minute when Connor Roberts and Jaidon Anthony replaced Glen Kamara and Summerville. James came closest to equalising, but how Leeds will ultimately rue their failure to trouble McCarthy.

More play-off final heartbreak plus a £140m blow to boot

Southampton were the only team to do the league double over Leeds this season. No one has played more play-off finals without winning than the Whites. You had to go all the way back to 1992 for the last time Leeds won at Wembley - and that was when the Twin Towers were still standing at the national stadium.

However, rather than being burdened by what's gone before, this was a chance for this young side to create their own bit of history. "It's a dream for every kid to play at Wembley," Georginio Rutter said. "Now, we have to do something special there."

To do so, Leeds had to play without fear and that is when this team are at their best. After all, aside from that end of season blip, this group have tended to relish what Daniel Farke terms 'spotlight games'. Leeds defeated champions Leicester City and promoted Ipswich Town home and away and Farke's team blew Norwich City apart in the play-offs just a few days after an edgy goalless draw in the first-leg.

However, this proved a step too far - too many players simply did not turn up - and the consequences will immediately be felt this summer. Deloitte estimate that Leeds have missed out on at least £140m in revenue over the next three seasons while the Whites will have to rebuild this summer with their star men still likely to attract Premier League interest.

Leeds fans do their bit but it's Sunak who's left smiling

Daniel Farke called on Leeds fans to 'take over the capital' by creating a 'white wall'. That was never going to be in doubt. As captain Liam Cooper said: "I know we're going to be roared on by all those lunatics." Ilia Gruev, meanwhile, added: "We're going to make Wembley a home game for us."

They certainly made themselves heard long before kick-off. Leeds fans, with scarves outstretched, delivered a stirring rendition of Marching on Together before launching into I Predict a Riot and, of course, the self-deprecating Leeds Are Falling Apart as the players warmed up.

Even when Leeds went behind, they stuck with their side and roared them back on for the second half, chanting: 'We all love Leeds, we all love Leeds'. Leeds were attacking towards their end after the break and you could almost feel those fans behind Alex McCarthy's goal attempting to suck the ball into the net as they twirled their scarves after the hour mark. It was not to be. This was an afternoon when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was left smiling and the Southampton fan took to X after the game to declare: "We're back!"