Southampton faced Liverpool in the most appealing fixture of the Premier League weekend, the Saints were looking to reclaim a top 4 position after the loss suffered by Manchester United earlier in the game week while Liverpool were also looking to cut down on the lead for a top 4 finish. Liverpool also had to be wary of an upcoming Europa League match away to Besiktas in midweek.
Liverpool were without Daniel Sturridge as he was on the bench while Raheem Sterling made a start for the Reds, the big news was that old boys Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana both started for Liverpool as they made their return to Southampton after moving away from the club.
A big decision early on
As soon as the match kicked off, Graziano Pelle played in Djuricic, who had only played 10 minutes this season and he went down in the box under a challenge from Emre Can but the referee did not give a penalty to Southampton, replays showed that the decision was right as the Saints player went down too easily.
As players were still coming to terms with that, Philippe Coutinho received the ball in the 2nd minute and lashed in a beautiful shot from 30 yards out to beat Fraser Forster. There was no let up and Southampton came right up the other end and were unlucky not to get a penalty from a challenge by Joe Allen on Djuricic, in the melee the ball was knocked out for a corner for Southampton.
Southampton were dominating the possession but after their initial flurry they lost a bit of impetus in attack, this led Liverpool to gain a bit of a foothold in the game as they started to play a bit more football which Liverpool are known for. The growing hold of the game from Liverpool almost culminated in a penalty for Sterling but the referee was not going to give a penalty it seemed, even after Fonte took away Sterling’s legs in a challenge.
Liverpool however clung on to the lead after another debatable call when he rushed out to block an Elia effort, Southampton players claimed that Mignolet handled the ball outside the area, this was followed by more penalty claims as Lovren did handle the ball but nothing was given and the teams headed into the tunnel, Liverpool lucky, Southampton furious.
Changes in the second half
The second half began with both teams making changes with Schneiderlin and Moreno coming on for Southampton and Liverpool respectively. Southampton made another made their second change with Mane coming on for Ward-Prowse in the 55th minute. The flurry of changes continued with Daniel Sturridge coming on to replace Adam Lallana who was booed by a section of fans.
The game went into a bit of a lull with the substitutes and while Southampton were once again dominating possession they could not break Liverpool down, Moreno picked up a loose ball from midfield and played a ball into the penalty box but Targett miscued his clearance and the ball fell kindly to Sterling who made it 2-0 to Liverpool.
Liverpool and Southampton made changes yet again with Johnson and Tadic coming on but the changes did not help either game make a change in the score-line. Liverpool moved up to 6th just a point behind Southampton and two points out of the Champions League spot. The Reds now face Besiktas in midweek before they take on Manchester City at home in the Premier League next weekend.
Picture courtesy: Express & Liverpool FC-newkit