Liverpool's Striking Stars Shine to Sink Saints
Liverpool equalled a club record 11 consecutive Premier League wins with a 2-1 victory away to Southampton.
Goals from Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino saw the Reds lead 2-0 before Danny Ings punished a massive Adrian blunder late in the second half.
Showing some residual impact from their 120 minute long energy-sapping Super Cup victory over Chelsea midweek, Jurgen Klopp’s men started slowly but eventually hit their straps and clinched a deserved win over their motivated opponents.
From the get-go, The Saints were keen to not show the European Champions too much respect.
This aggressiveness informed their tactics as they gave Liverpool a taste of their strategical medicine by employing an orchestrated high press.
James Ward Prowse personified Southampton’s ambitions early on as his long busting run closed down Adrian and blocked down the Spaniards attempted clearance.
Jurgen Klopp’s charges were hemmed in their own half by the Saints’ press and struggled to release themselves from the almost ceaseless pressure from the hosts.
Both Maya Yoshida and Che Adams should have capitalized on Ralf Hassenhutl’s men’s ascendancy, but they headed good chances straight at and over Adrian’s crossbar.
The Saint Mary’s side would soon live to regret their penalty box toothlessness, however, as Mané expertly gave Liverpool a scantily deserved lead.
Against his former club, the Senegalese star collected the ball from Milner just inside the box and curled a beautiful effort into Angus Gunn’s top corner.
Buoyed by the lead, The Reds started the second period in fine fashion in a manner that contrasted greatly with their first showing.
James Milner’s deflected volley drifted narrowly wide with Gunn looking like he was beaten.
Moments later, Mohamed Salah ought to have scored as his low left-footed strike from inside the box was saved by the increasingly busy Gunn in Saints goal.
Southampton looked powerless to prevent the visitors from taking a hold of the game and Firmino should have taken it away from them after a wonderfully orchestrated passing move.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass released Mané down the left flank and the number ten’s accurate cross was steered wide of the right-hand post by the Brazilian when he should have scored.
It didn’t take long, however, for the European Champions to rubber-stamp their second-half dominance.
Firmino, making amends for his earlier miss, collected the ball from Mané — who had pilfered a Saints player near their own box — before driving into the box and expertly firing low past Gunn into the bottom left corner.
With the result now a formality, Liverpool opened up their box of tricks. Andrew Robertson, who was impressive throughout, drew an excellent near-post save from Gunn after being teed up by Mané’s audacious flick.
The Reds looked comfortable throughout the second period but handed the initiative back to the hosts when Adrian was punished for dawdling on the ball.
With options and time aplenty on the ball after a van Dijk back pass, the former West Ham keeper hesitated before passing the ball straight off Danny Ings — the second player to score against his former club — and into his own net.
Ings should have drew Southampton level moments later, but the England international inexplicably fired wide at the back post following Yann Valery’s cross as the Reds descended from ascendancy to anxiety.
The hosts huffed and puffed in the final few minutes, but Liverpool held on for what was, overall, a deserved three points.
Team: Adrian; Alexander Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Oxlade Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Subs used: Henderson for Oxlade Chamberlain, Origi for Salah, Henderson for Milner.