Liverpool won their first game of the season 2-1 against Southampton at Anfield. The newly assembled Saints side made Liverpool work hard to take away all three points from the game. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge netted the winner as the Reds now prepare to face Manchester City next weekend at Etihad.
Raheem Sterling opened the scoring in the 24th minute of the game from a sublime pass from Jordan Henderson. It took only 11 minutes after the break for Nathaniel Clyne to equalize for Southampton. Liverpool substitutions Joe Allen and Rickie Lambert made a strong impact in the game as Daniel Sturridge scored the winner in the 79th minute from a Raheem Sterling header.
The Reds won’t be too pleased with their performance, but the first game of the season is all about getting the three points. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers admitted players will take time to regain full sharpness and performance don’t matter much right now.
“We had to grind out a result so it was a brilliant win for us,” he said.
“I am really happy with that determination and character. As the season rolls on, we will get better and more fluent. Players are still searching for their fitness, getting their conditioning, but we will get better.
“Southampton are a good side. Just because they have lost players, it was not going to be a walkover. They have a very experienced manager so to get the three points was vital. We showed guts and determination.
“For Daniel Sturridge, it was just a continuation, showing he can get goals. I think that is 36 goals in 50 appearances which is the best of any striker in Liverpool’s history. That shows the level he is at. He always looks like he will score. It was a poacher’s goal, one of those where you anticipate a knockdown, and Raheem Sterling’s was also great goal.”
Rodgers also revealed he received a text message before the game from former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez wishing him good luck.
“He sent us a lovely text wishing us all the best, which was a great gesture,” said Rodgers.
“He is a friend now of Liverpool. He is a good boy but he is gone. His heart will still always be with Liverpool. Our ambitions here at Liverpool have to be bigger than one player. We are bigger than any player.”
Asked if he responded to the text message from Suarez, Rodgers replied: “I did, yes. He’s a good boy, but he’s gone. His heart is with Liverpool and he’ll always be Liverpool. It was a lovely touch.”
LIVERPOOL (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson; Lucas (Allen 63), Gerrard; Henderson, Coutinho (Lambert 76), Sterling; Sturridge. Subs: Jones, Toure, Sakho, Can, Ibe. BOOKING: Manquillo (foul).
SOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1): Forster; Clyne, Yoshida, Fonte, Bertrand; Schneiderlin, Wanyama; Davis (Isgrove 82), Ward-Prowse, Tadic (Long 74); Pelle. Subs: Davies, Taider, Cork, Hooiveld, Stephens. BOOKINGS: Schneiderlin and Davis (both fouls).
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg.