Were it not for a 20th minute goal from the Saints’ Nathan Redmond, viewers of the clash between Liverpool and Southampton at St. Mary’s could be forgiven for thinking they were watching a recording of the stilted 0-0 league draw the two played out back in November. Once again, the Reds dominated possession, but couldn’t find a way through Claude Puel’s well-drilled side who sat deep and spent much of the game with six at the back.
Even a 30-minute cameo from Philippe Coutinho on his return from injury couldn’t provide enough of a spark for a Liverpool that looked short of ideas on the day. An error from Ragnar Klavan put Redmond through to score early on and from that moment, Reds boss Jürgen Klopp said, things unraveled:
“We started like we do usually, but after that goal we conceded in this moment, we lost timing, we were not compact enough and everything changed and the reaction was not good.
“We can do much better of course.”
His side came out much stronger to start the second half but the Saints were up to the task, battling scrappily and even spurning several counterattacking chances—all through Redmond—to go even further ahead.
“[The second half] was open,” Klopp admitted. “And open games are difficult and they had big chances because we were not compact enough. We were in different situations and Loris [Karius] had to save our lives a few times.
“I am not too happy with the performance, especially after [going down] 1-0. They had a few counterattacks of course, but we should’ve been more clear in our passing. They had a really deep formation and it’s difficult but we could’ve done better.”
Although the manager was disappointed with both the performance and the result, he expressed confidence that his side will not be stifled for a third time in the January 25 second leg.
“I work with human beings. Things like this performance happen,” he said.
“When we play Southampton again, it will be a completely different game. Tonight we were not good enough over the whole 90 minutes but we will do better [in the next leg] and no one should think it is already decided.”