Leeds' faint automatic promotion hopes were emphatically snuffed out on the Sky Bet Championship's final day as they slipped to a 2-1 home defeat to Southampton.

Saints striker Adam Armstrong's opener was cancelled out by Joel Piroe before Will Smallbone regained the lead for the visitors, who were worthy winners at Elland Road.

Leeds needed a win in their last game of the regular season and a home defeat for Ipswich against all-but relegated Huddersfield, but neither materialised and Daniel Farke's side must lift themselves out of a downward spiral in time for the play-offs.

They ended up six points adrift of Ipswich, who beat Huddersfield 2-0, after a fourth defeat in six matches and became the first Championship side since Sunderland in 1998 to finish on 90 points and not go up automatically.

For impressive Southampton, who finished fourth, it was a timely return to form after three straight defeats and the two sides could yet meet again at Wembley later this month in the play-off final. For that to happen, Leeds must see off Norwich and Saints need to beat West Brom.

Leeds started like a team eager to put last Friday's damaging defeat at QPR behind them and Georginio Rutter's free-kick forced Alex McCarthy into flying early save.

But Southampton looked fluid breaking forward, despite making six changes after last week's home defeat to Stoke, and Elland Road fell silent when they took an 18th-minute lead.

Leeds failed to clear Saints' first corner and Che Adams' low cross was turned home by the unmarked Armstrong for his 21st league goal of the season.

The home side's response was immediate though. Sam Byram drove deep into Saints' territory and when Willy Gnonto's cross was only half-cleared, Piroe smashed in the equaliser.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Leeds failed to build on this Joel Piroe equaliser yesterday.Leeds failed to build on this Joel Piroe equaliser yesterday. (Image: PA.)

But Leeds continued to live dangerously, hacking clear a corner inches from their own goal-line before Byram's last-ditch tackle deflected Ryan Manning's fizzing goal-bound effort off target.

And the home side's soft underbelly was exposed again in the 35th minute.

Kyle Walker-Peters chased a long ball out near the corner flag, skipped round Junior Firpo and picked out Smallbone, who ran unchallenged into the box to fire his side back in front.

Gnonto pulled a low shot just wide as Leeds chased a second equaliser, but it could have been worse for the Whites when Taylor Harwood-Bellis headed Manning's free-kick against the crossbar before half-time.

Southampton substitute Ryan Fraser's curling effort had home fans holding their breath at the start of the second half as the visitors resumed full of confidence.

Leeds enjoyed their best spell of the match after a triple substitution of Archie Gray, Matteo Joseph and Jaidon Anthony - on for Glen Kamara, Rutter and Gnonto - with half an hour to go.

But they had only Crysencio Summerville's angled effort, parried by McCarthy, and a low wide effort from Anthony to show for a dominant spell of possession.