Southampton 1 Mané 1'
Liverpool 6 Sturridge 25', 29, Origi 45', 68', 86', Ibe 73'
Well, that turned out to be a lot more fun than the opening five minutes suggested! At least for Liverpool fans. After going down and generally looking sloppy in the early goings, Liverpool strike back and put Southampton to the sword through clinical finishing from fresh striking partnership Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi, with a bit of Ibe in between.
The Reds came out in a 4-3-1-2 on the night, with Conor Randall giving Nathaniel Clyne a well-deserved rest at right back, and Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno rounding out the back four. Emre Can, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen made up the midfield behind a mobile front three, where Divock Origi was ostensibly the target man, Adam Lallana ostensibly the number ten and Daniel Sturridge whatever he damned pleased.
Southampton had clearly made up their mind to bully inexperienced Randall, and it paid off immediately, as their first attack saw the young fullback get spun around by Dusan Tadic, Can selling himself cheaply on a feigned cross, and Moreno forgetting to mark Mané, leaving the Senegalese winger with an easy headed finish from five yards.
Five minutes later, a similar situation led to a Wanyama header from similar distance, but Bogdan collected the finish with ease. Randall was booked shortly after, although the little shove on Tadic hardly seemed to warrant a caution so early in the game.
Liverpool struggled to establish any sort of play, and Southampton were well on top without creating much in way of opportunities, until the 25th minute. Sturridge miscontrolled an excellent ball over the top from Allen, and the chance seemed to have gone, but the injury-prone striker amended his first touch with some nifty footwork and a smashed finish across Stekelenburg to level the score.
He'd have his second four minutes later, but this time it was all about the foreplay. Emre Can Ronaldo-chopped and outside-the-boot through-balled our pants off, leaving Sturridge with an easy first-time finish from five yards.
The away side were taking over the game now, as Allen and Sturridge combined to provide Randall with a shot on goal, which was deflected for a corner. Lallana's cross was cleared by Virgil van Dijk, but only as far as Moreno, lurking outside the box. His driven volley snuck into the bottom corner, helped on by a feathery touch from Origi, who opened his Liverpool goal account, just on the stroke of half time.
Southampton came storming out of the gates in the second half, switching to a 3-4-3 and attempting to overload Liverpool's right side, but unlike the first half, they were unable to convert their early pressure into chances.
Jordon Ibe came on for Sturridge on 58 minutes, before substitute Shane Long headed narrowly wide from a looping cross. Emre Can was booked for a Lucas foul - the referee seemingly picking Can for repeated fouls despite Lucas committing the one in question - and will miss the trip to Newcastle on Sunday.
Minutes later, Jordon Ibe played in a streaking Origi, and the 20-year old, clearly confident after scoring his first goal, unleashed an unstoppable hammered shot in off the near-side crossbar. The Belgian was involved in the fifth goal as well, playing Moreno in down the flank with a back-heel. The Spaniard chipped a perfect cross over to Ibe, who chested the ball past his marker and slammed it into the bottom corner from 15 yards.
The forgotten fullback Brad Smith was subbed on for Alberto Moreno, and quickly made an impact, sending in a swerving, dipping cross from the left side, and leaving Origi with an easy headed finish after breaking free from makeshift centre-back Wanyama. The Belgian becomes the first ever Liverpool player to score a hat trick away to Southampton, putting Liverpool 6-1 up and completing the rout.
As he is wont to do Jürgen Klopp went through a roller coaster ride of emotion over the course of a few hours tonight; from laughing at reporters commenting on the number of changes to his squad, through furiously screaming for BEWEGUNG! at his static players, to hugging and probably full-on kissing Jordan Henderson as they celebrated Liverpool's fourth goal. His side didn't create much more than they have in other games under the German, but their efficiency was tremendous, as six out of seven shots on target were scored. The score may have flattered the visitors, but early wobbles aside, they were good value for their win, and didn't concede many chances after the opening ten minutes.
The inclusion of Daniel Sturridge clearly made a difference, as his pace and mobility allowed Liverpool to expose the home side's high line, and the superstar striker completing 60 minutes should give fans hope that his worst injuries are behind him. Divock Origi showed his versatility in the striking department with a poacher's effort, a long-range hammer and an excellent run and header, to go along with his hold-up play. Joe Allen had a great game on both sides of the ball, breaking up opposition attacks and springing breaks with commensurate quality. Lucas did Lucas things, and the CB pairing of Skrtel and Lovren put together another solid outing.
Adam Lallana and Emre Can both had uneven performances, the latter pairing sexual chocolate assists with some late challenges and obvious frustration, and getting the weekend off will probably do him good. Alberto Moreno is becoming a very solid full-back, and will establish his position as such as soon as he stops falling asleep on crosses. Conor Randall at times looked overmatched, but grew into the game and finished stronger than he began.
Liverpool will certainly take confidence from such a thrashing, but Jürgen Klopp is not one to get carried away with a big win, and will not allow his side to go into the weekend's Newcastle fixture with any sort of complacency.