Mané and Thiago sink Southampton to keep Liverpool’s top-four hopes alive | Premier League

Must read

[ad_1]

Jürgen Klopp has described Champions League qualification as unlikely for Liverpool. He has even spoken of it in the past tense in recent weeks. It remains, however, a possibility in the present. Sadio Mané’s first half header and Thiago Alcântara’s first goal for the club downed Southampton and heighten the anxiety clearly being felt in Leicester.

The Premier League champions, for a few more days at least, can sniff blood in the form of Brendan Rodgers’ faltering fourth-placed team. This performance was not a convincing argument for their own prospects of ending a troubled season with a flourish but, after two wasteful draws, the end product was all that mattered for Klopp and his players.

The curse of Liverpool central defenders continued with Ozan Kabak and fellow deadline-day signing Ben Davies, who has yet to play a single minute for the club, joining Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joël Matip on the sidelines with injury. Klopp therefore had little option but to deploy the inexperienced duo of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams. Injury cost Southampton striker Danny Ings the opportunity to trouble his former team for the second time this season while Theo Walcott replaced the ineligible Takumi Minamino.

With the notable exception of the heart of his defence, Klopp was able to field a seasoned team of internationals against opponents whose form has also nosedived in 2021. The yet-to-be-deposed Premier League champions started where they left off against Newcastle last time out at Anfield: controlling possession, crafting clear openings and allowing the visitors to escape punishment far too often. As the regular anguished shrieks from Ralph Hasenhüttl testified, however, Southampton were also guilty of squandering fine chances throughout an open and eventful first half.

Mané should have edged Liverpool ahead when picked out unmarked on the edge of the Southampton area by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pinpoint pass out of defence. The Senegal striker’s first touch took him inside Jannik Vestergaard but, with a clear sight of Fraser Forster’s goal, he blazed high into the Anfield Road stand to the visible annoyance of his manager.

Forster, recalled in place of Alex McCarthy, produced a solid display in the Southampton goal. He denied Diogo Jota after the forward had collected Mané’s neat backheel and weaved his way past three challenges inside the area before shooting straight at the goalkeeper. From the subsequent corner he saved with his legs from Mohamed Salah, played in by Alexander-Arnold once again. He was beaten at the next corner, also by the Liverpool right-back, but Georginio Wijnaldum’s towering header struck the crossbar.

The complexion of the first half was shaped inside one minute. Southampton should have taken the lead, and had two clear chances to do so, but found themselves trailing to Mané’s back-post header instead. Nathan Tella was released clear down the right by Walcott and centred for the unmarked Che Adams, who never looked convincing as Alisson closed him down and lofted a weak chip against the Liverpool goalkeeper.

Thiago Alcântara and Alexander-Arnold made a mess of the clearance, giving Nathan Redmond a free shot from the edge of the area that he sent tamely into Alisson’s grasp. Southampton were punished immediately. Fabinho found Salah in space on the right and the Egypt international produced an exquisite cross with the outside of his boot for Mané to head home from close range.

The breakthrough was the first time that Salah and Mané had combined for a goal in the Premier League this season, surprisingly. Salah should have doubled the hosts’ advantage moments later when Jack Stephens was unable to intercept a long ball over the top. Liverpool’s leading marksman was in on goal but opted to round Forster instead of hitting the target. The delay enabled Southampton defenders to get back in numbers and Salah’s delayed attempt was blocked.

The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.

Tella wasted an excellent chance to bring Southampton level shortly before half-time when Redmond, a persistent threat from the left, found him free inside the six-yard box. Unmarked and with most of the goal to aim for, he tamely headed Redmond’s cross straight at Alisson. Hasenhüttl screamed once more.

Forster denied Jota again early in the second half while Stephens produced a well-timed block to prevent Salah converting a pass from Mané. Alisson almost gifted Adams a late goal with a careless clearance straight to the striker but redeemed himself by saving the striker’s weak follow-up. The final word belonged to Thiago, however, who swept home his first Liverpool goal from 20 yards after substitute Roberto Firmino had forced an error from Kyle Walker-Peters.

[ad_2]

- Advertisement -

Amir Khan says he was escorted from US flight ‘for no reason’ | UK...

1
British boxer Amir Khan has said he was escorted from a flight in the US by police “for no reason”.The 34-year-old, who has...

Arts, music featured at Franklin Park event

1
Yaw Asamoah of Dublin was born in the West African nation of Ghana but has lived in central Ohio for 20 years.He retains a...

Amber list scrapped in England travel shake-up | News

2
Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced a simplified system for international travel from the UK. He argued the move was possible in light of...

Peter Williams, Who Painted the Black Experience, Dies at 69

1
Peter Williams, whose colorful paintings — sometimes humorous, sometimes disturbing, often both — reflected his own history, Black history and contemporary issues like...

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Covid - 19

Covid Update