LIVERPOOL 1-0 SOUTHAMPTON (PREMIER LEAGUE)
Summer signing Dejan Lovren’s first goal for Southampton saw them defeat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time in a decade and deservedly so.
Liverpool boss made three changes to his starting eleven from the 2-2 draw at Swansea on Monday night with Kolo Toure, Daniel Agger and Iago Aspas coming in for Andre Wisdom, Jose Enriue and the injured Philippe Coutinho. Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino made only one change to his matchday sqaud with Jack Cork replacing Guly Do Prado on the bench.
Both sides made a fast start and it was Southampton who had the first chance. A long ball was sent towards the edge of the Liverpool area and, as Simon Mignolet came to claim the ball, Martin Skrtel decided to head it clear. He headed it as far as Saints captain Adam Lallana who decided, with Mignolet off his line, to volley it in from 35 yards. Unfortunately for Lallana he could only hit it way over.
Liverpool hit back with a good chance of their own. Lucas released an unmarked Aspas down the right who played it inside for Daniel Sturridge. The striker couldn’t get the ball under control but Jordan Henderson rushed onto it and curled a first time shot towards goal, However, it was straight at Artur Boruc in the Southampton goal.
Both sides were playing some nice, neat football but they were restricted to ambitious long shots as Lucas and Rickie Lambert showed. Liverpool had a great chance to take the lead after 20 minutes though. Aspas was blocked off 25 yards from goal by Jose Fonte. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard stepped up and forced an excellent save out of Boruc. A bit further in the corner though and Liverpool would have been in front.
Southampton had a huge chance a few minutes later though. A quick free kick was played to the impressive Lallana down the left. He turned Henderson inside out before getting his cross in. Toure and Gerrard got in each others way trying to clear it and the ball fell to Rickie Lambert on the edge of the six yard box. The new England international was put off by the presence of Skrtel and could only get a feint connection into the arms of Mignolet. It was a huge let off for Liverpool there and Southampton got one courtesy of referee Neil Swarbrick.
Gerrard played a lovely switch ball over to Sturridge and the England striker began to back up Luke Shaw into the box. He went past Shaw and Dejan Lovren – who had come across to help – but was caught by the Croatian defender inside the box. Sturridge tried to stay on his feet but couldn’t. Liverpool protested but Swarbrick let play go on which replays showed was the wrong call.
Liverpool were beginning to perk up a bit and fashioned a great chance out of almost nothing 10 minutes from half time. Gerrard took a quick throw in to Victor Moses on the left and the winger was allowed to attack with the ball. He came inside, nutmegging Fonte, but could only fire his shot at Boruc. It was a good chance for the home side and they finished the half strongly but their only real chance was a looping header over by Sturridge.
The second half began with Liverpool almost shooting themselves in the foot. Southampton pressed Mignolet and Agger on the edge of the box leading to Agger giving it away to Morgan Schneiderlin. The French midfielder released Lallana who couldn’t beat Mignolet. It was a warning for Liverpool and one they didn’t heed as Southampton took the lead.
Rodriguez won a corner on the left which Lallana took. His inswinging delivery was met by Lovren who had gotten in front of Henderson in the box. Gerrard couldn’t keep the ball out of the net and Southampton deservedly led at Anfield. It was the Croatian defender’s first goal since his move for Lyon and the Saints players and fans were clearly delighted by it.
And it nearly got better a couple of minutes later for Southampton. Osvaldo received the ball on the left and went inside two Liverpool players before getting off a low shot from the edge of the area. Unfortunately for the Italian he was denied by a smart save from Mignolet.
Southampton, though, were thankful for Boruc on the hour mark. Lallana tripped Moses on the edge of the box and Gerrard’s low, hard free kick had to be pushed away by the Polish keeper. It was the beginning of Liverpool’s constant pressure but they always looked vulnerable to the counter attack, as evidenced later on.
Left back Shaw played a one-two with Lallana just inside the Liverpool half and broke forward. No Liverpool player put a tackle in and Shaw bundled his way into the area before seeing his shot saved by Mignolet. However, the Belgian could only parry it right back into the danger zone where substitute Steven Davis was waiting but Mignolet recovered just about to get it clear for a corner.
While Liverpool were susceptible to counter attacks, Southampton were almost caught out by one from the aforementioned corner. The ball came to Sturridge on the right who played through an underlapping Raheem Sterling. The young winger allowed Nathaniel Clyne to go to ground before walking past him and pulling the ball back into the six yard box. Before Henderson could put it in, Lovren managed to hack it clear for a corner. It was a great recovery by the Croatian and a crucial one too.
The Liverpool pressure continued but they couldn’t break down the resilient Southampton defence. The only time the Saints were in trouble was in the final minute of normal time when Sterling was released in behind by Toure. However, the young winger’s touch let him down as he knocked it out for a goal kick. That would prove to be Liverpool’s last chance as they fell to their first defeat of the season.
It was a hugely disappointing performance from Liverpool with a lack of creativity and defensive ability on show. Southampton, though, will be delighted and proved today that they will cause every team in the Premier League problems this season with their high intensity pressing and good football.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Toure, Sakho, Skrtel (Alberto 72), Agger (Enrique 57), Lucas, Gerrard (c), Henderson, Aspas (Sterling 46), Moses, Sturridge
Subs: Jones, Kelly, Wisdom, Ibe
Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana (c) (Ward-Prowse 76), Rodriguez (Cork 89), Lambert (S. Davis 66), Osvaldo
Subs: K. Davis, Ramírez, Chambers, Hooiveld
MAN OF THE MATCH: ADAM LALLANA (SOUTHAMPTON)