Goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino fired Liverpool to a victory against Southampton, despite Adrian’s howler late in the game.
Liverpool climbed to the top of the 2019-20 Premier League standings, as they beat Ralph Hassenhuttl’s Southampton 2-1 away at the St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was the home team that had made a strong start to the game and had a couple of great opportunities to open the scoring, but Adrian produced an instinctive stop to deny Maya Yoshida, while Che Adams headed over an Oriol Romeu cross. Yet, it was Liverpool who took the lead on the cusp of half-time, with Sadio Mane finding the net with a sensational strike against his former club.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were much-improved after the break and could have doubled their lead soon after the restart, but James Milner’s deflected effort missed narrowly, while Mohamed Salah saw his strike saved by Angus Gunn. Roberto Firmino also came close, before he went on to stretch the Reds’ lead in the 71st minute with a precise finish after a sharp run from the left side.
Mane and Andrew Robertson had their efforts saved by Gunn as Liverpool looked to extend their advantage further. However, a comical error from goalkeeper Adrian allowed the Saints a way back into the game. The Spaniard, under pressure, passed the ball straight to Southampton striker Danny Ings who found the net.
THREE POINTS ON THE ROAD! ✊ https://t.co/DOjIbOF1CV
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 17, 2019
The former Liverpool man could have salvaged a point for the Saints minutes later, but missed a sitter from close range after being teed up by Yan Valery, allowing Liverpool to see off the game and bag three points. The win, coupled with Manchester City’s draw against Tottenham later on Saturday, means Liverpool sit at the top of the league table, ahead of Arsenal on goal difference.
Here’s how we rated the performances of the Liverpool stars on the day at the St. Mary’s.
Made a sharp save to deny Maya Yoshida in the first period, but his distribution left a lot to be desired all through the game. Had been put under pressure by James Ward-Prowse with the ball at his feet in the first half, but Adrian did not learn from the mistake as he mishit a pass straight to Ings in the second period, who punished Liverpool.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
The youngster’s presence adds more threat to Reds’ attacking play down the right flank owing to his forward forays, which was the case again on Saturday. However, his end product let him down at times. Defensively still does not convince completely, as he had some difficult times against Adams and Ryan Bertrand. Improved with time though, as Liverpool took control in the second half.
Joel Matip: 6/10
Caught out by Adams which led to Southampton’s best chance in the first half. Put his goalkeeper under pressure on more than one occasion, one of which needed Adrian to parry the ball away to safety. Fared better after the break though, much like the rest of his teammates.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
A figure of calm and composure under Southampton’s intense press from the front, the former Saints star was easily Liverpool’s best defender on the day. Had a tough battle with Adams, but came out on top more often than not against the youngster. Still not at his absolute best, but got the job done.
Andrew Robertson: 6.5/10
The Scotsman was restricted in his forward darts down the left flank owing to the threat posed by Saints’ wing-back Valery and Ward-Prowse, who kept him honest for most of the first half. Defended well though, and had a shot saved in the second period with the score at 2-0.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6.5/10
Starting his first Premier League game since April last year, the Englishman was moved into central midfield after a poor showing on the left flank in the midweek. Looked much more at home in this role and made a couple of dangerous forward bursts in the first half, setting up Salah with a fine pass. Did not shy away from his defensive duties, with his effort to deny Nathan Redmond a chance particularly laudable.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Starting as the holding midfielder, the Dutchman took a little while to get going on the day. Loose on the ball at times, while he was caught out of position on occasions as well. Grew in confidence after the break though, and imposed himself on the game in a much better manner.
James Milner: 6/10
The veteran midfielder looked a touch off pace, having been involved in the midweek game against Chelsea. However, that did not stop him from getting stuck in. Had to get stitches after a head-clash with Ward-Prowse. Got the assist for Mane’s goal and had a shot narrowly miss after the break. Could not offer the control Liverpool needed in the middle, though.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
A rare off-day for the Egyptian international, who failed to impact the game in the way people have grown accustomed to, highlighted by the fact that he had just 21 touches despite being on the field for almost 80 minutes. Produced a sensational back-flick to create an opportunity for Oxlade-Chamberlain in the first half and had an effort saved after the break.
Roberto Firmino: 7/10
The Brazilian international, back into the starting XI after his exploits from the bench against Chelsea, endured a quiet first period as Liverpool struggled to get going. But, his work-rate was commendable as ever. Missed a promising chance after the break, before drilling past Gunn after a slaloming run across the box to double Liverpool’s lead.
Sadio Mane: 9/10
Once again the star of the show for Liverpool. Opened the scoring on the day with a brilliant curling effort on the verge of half-time. Set Salah up with a fine pass in the second period, before creating a chance for Firmino with another sublime delivery, but both opportunities went abegging. Did get the assist for the second goal and had a headed effort saved by Gunn at 2-0.
Replaced Milner for the final fifteen minutes. Strong in tackles, won a few headers.
Divock Origi: N/A
On for Salah in the 79th minute. Did not make much of an impact.
Jordan Henderson: N/A
Came on in place of Oxlade-Chamberlain in the final minute.