For the second time in as many seasons, Simon Mignolet's stand out performance in the first game of the season helped Liverpool emerge a goal ahead and three points better off than their opponents. Although he wasn't forced into making a season-defining penalty save this time, Mignolet's shot stopping ability saved Liverpool on more than one occasion and Rickie Lambert was blown away by his teammate's display of skill.
"It was one of the best saves I’ve ever seen," Lambert said of the Morgan Schneiderlin shot stopped late in the game by Mignolet. "It was a fingertip save. It looked like it was definitely a goal and he’s managed to push it onto the underside of the bar. It’s little moments like that that make all the difference."
Yesterday's save is unlikely to take on the same mythological status as last season's penalty save on opening day, but with back to back away visits to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur next on the fixture list, the save secured Liverpool an all important win and set a good tone to the start of the season.
Still, there are things to be improved upon in the coming weeks, but Lambert isn't worried about the team not being in mid-season form on opening day.
"Obviously, it’s the first game and we’re not going to be as fluent as we were at the end of last season, that will come," Lambert continued. "With it being the first game everyone’s excited, everyone’s nervous, everyone’s desperate to win, and you’re not sure how you’re going to play. You’re never quite as sharp as you want to be.
"The quicker you can get that first win, the better. It makes you calm, helps you get into your rhythm a little bit easier and a little bit faster. The most important thing is getting the first win under the belt. That’s the perfect springboard to go into the next game. We’ve got a few hard games coming up."
Southampton proved to be a test for Liverpool despite the Saints having been ravaged during the transfer window by multiple clubs — *cough* — but Liverpool's early challenges could prove to have a silver lining if they help identify sooner rather than later where Brendan Rodgers needs to do a bit of fine tweaking. Better to find out at home against Southampton than away to the current league champions.
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