Firpo earns Leeds precious win over bottom side Southampton
New Leeds United manager Javi Gracia's reign began with a 1-0 Premier League home win over bottom side Southampton as Junior Firpo's goal helped the Yorkshire club snap a 10-game winless run and move out of the relegation zone on Saturday.
Leeds climbed to 17th on 22 points after 24 games, a point above the drop zone, following their first league victory since before the World Cup break.
"After 10 games without a win, the team needed it. It is one step, but an important step," Gracia told Sky Sports.
"The difference was we were solid. We got a clean sheet and that is important. That is the way we need to grow. I can tell you I am proud of my players; today they did their job. We are happy with the result and attitude."
The hosts dominated possession in Gracia's debut after his appointment this week and edged a scrappy first half in which neither side created much of note.
Firpo finally broke the deadlock in front of a raucous Elland Road crowd in the 77th minute, squeezing a tame effort under goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu after being cleverly set up with a flick by Jack Harrison.
Firpo said it was probably his biggest goal ever, adding: "We managed the game really well. It has been one of the toughest times in my career, but we have one of the best dressing rooms I've seen and we deserve the win."
Southampton piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, and dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse nearly created one as he whipped in a corner in 90th minute, but he was let down by a poor header from team mate Armel Bella-Kotchap.
Leeds substitute Crysencio Summerville should have put the result beyond doubt in added time as he created an opportunity out of nothing by spinning past his marker before driving into the area, but he dragged his shot just wide of the post.
Southampton, who will have thought their luck was turning after taking three points at Chelsea last week, stay three points behind second-bottom Bournemouth, who were hosting second-placed Manchester City later on Saturday.