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Southampton 3-1 Liverpool: Saints beat Liverpool to boost survival hopes

 Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League

On a rainy night on the south coast of England, two stories were being written. The first was Liverpool‘s quest to reach a European place, the other being Southampton’s attempts to avoid relegation. Mauricio Pochettino was trying to get his second win in charge of the Saints, while Brendan Rodgers tried to earn a fourth consecutive win for the Reds in the Premier League.

The Saints came out on top in this encounter, and Liverpool were second best throughout the game, the loss effectively ending their already slim chances of getting to the UEFA Champions League spots. On the other hand, with a performance like this, it’s hardly believable that Southampton are in their precarious position.

Five minutes into the game, a cross was headed into the box, which Schneiderlin finished with a smart flick past Brad Jones, who was playing his second straight game in place of the injured Pepe Reina in the Liverpool goal.

The Saints were relentless in their pursuit of the win, and it seemed like they wanted the points more than the Merseyside club. Liverpool could not get a foot into the game, and Allen especially was being bullied out of the midfield. Lambert was having a field day against Martin Skrtel, who had replaced Jamie Carragher in the heart of the Liverpool defense.

Lambert then won a free kick in the 33rd minute. He took the free kick himself, with the ball taking a deflection off the wall and wrongfooting Brad Jones to go into the back of the net. The Saints were leading by two goals now. Lambert should have scored earlier as well, when he was faced with a one-on-one situation against Brad Jones, but Jones came out on top on that occasion.

Southampton v Liverpool - Premier League

Many of Liverpool’s players did not turn up for the game, as Sturridge, Johnson, Allen, and especially Skrtel looked well off the pace, and it seemed just a matter of time before Southampton scored a third to kill the game. However, it was Liverpool who found a way back into the game when Suarez crossed the ball for Agger to head it into the path of Sturridge on the stroke of halftime. Sturridge’s  shot came off Boruc, and Coutinho was there to score for Liverpool to cut the deficit to half.

The second half started with an expected change, as the oft-bullied Allen came off and Lucas came on, giving Liverpool a bit more steel in midfield. The Saints’ defense dealt with the threat of the Liverpool forwards brilliantly, as the likes of Suarez and Coutinho were having a frustrating time trying to deal with all of Southampton’s pressing and defensive tightness. The hosts’ defenders were well drilled at countering Liverpool’s pass-and-play game, as the visitors were reduced to having their full-backs play the long ball forward. That resulted in long balls running either out of play or into Boruc’s hands.

Not much was happening for either club in the second half, as Liverpool tried to get their game going, only to be thwarted time and again by Luke Shaw and his side. Liverpool were chasing the game and were getting caught out at the back, and Jones produced a great save from Lallana’s strike in the 77th minute. However, Jay Rodriguez finished the game soon afterwards, as he picked up the ball in midfield and took off on a bursting run, beating the out-of-sorts Martin Skrtel and shooting straight at Brad Jones. The keeper was able to save it, but the Southampton man calmly slotted the rebound into the empty net. Southampton were now on their way to a crucial win in their fight for survival. Liverpool were seeing their Champions League dreams fade away, and fast.

There was no whiff of a comeback either from the Reds. Luis Suarez managed to get booked for a petulant act, as he was a little too eager to get the ball out of Boruc’s hands. He might have looked surprised at the fact that he got booked, but in reality, the surprise came from the Saints. In a week where a new Pope was elected, this performance was divine, and a blessing for the Saints’ faithful, who should see more sunny days as long as their side continue playing like this.

“Oh, when the Saints, go marching in!”

Southampton XI: Artur Boruc, Luke Shaw, Maya Yoshida, Jos Hooiveld (Jose Fonte 32′), Nathaniel Clyne, Adam Lallana (Guly 84′),Jay Rodriguez, Morgan Schneiderlin, Jack Cork, Gastón Ramírez (Steven Davis 55′), Rickie Lambert

Liverpool XI: Bradley Jones, Daniel Agger, Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, José Enrique, Philippe Coutinho, Stewart Downing, Joe Allen (Lucas Leiva 45′), Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge (Jordan Henderson 84′), Luis Suárez

Southampton 3-1 Liverpool

Southampton: Schneiderlin 6′, Lambert 33′, Rodriguez 80′

Liverpool: Coutinho 45+1′

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