Southampton 1 - 2 Liverpool
Southampton: Ings 83’
Liverpool: Mané 45+1’, Firmino 70’
Adrian has been deemed fit to start this match, after some concern over an ankle injury he received the ok from the physios. After a tough game in Istanbul, Liverpool returned to England victorious and looking to extend the good feelings today when they take on Southampton in the Premier League.
The Reds have started out well enough, getting into some good positions early and looking good in their black and turquoise kits. Adrian doesn’t inspire confidence when he passes a ball, under very little pressure, into the abdomen of Ward-Prowse. Luckily for him, the ball goes out for a corner kick instead of straight into the net. To his credit, the keeper keeps his head a moment later and coolly closes down a dangerous counterattack.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Milner are the liveliest players for Liverpool in the opening 15 minutes. They’ve been at the heart of all of the Reds’ best moments. And speaking of Milner, the co-captain gets into a collision with Ward-Prowse that requires him to get some stitches in his forehead. Southampton take advantage of his absence by wheedling two corners out of it. The second leads to a heart-stopper from four-yards out that requires a terrific, instinctive save from Adrian to keep the game scoreless before Milner makes his way back onto the pitch in a head bandage. This is a difficult spell from Liverpool here. They haven’t seen the right side of the pitch in upwards of five minutes.
You can really see the exhaustion in the players. They’re sluggish, finding it hard to clear their lines or connect passes. They’ve been very lucky so far not to be behind.
Che Adams nearly gets through, but skies it over the bar. At this point, we can only hope for halftime and some fresh legs in the second half, because this is not working.
GOAL!! 45+1’ - And out of absolutely nothing, Sadio Mané cuts inside and scores an absolute thunderbolt to open his Premier League account this season, and put Liverpool somehow, inexplicably ahead just before halftime.
That was a disjointed and frustrating half, but Liverpool found a way to go into the locker room ahead, thanks to a moment of brilliance from Mané. Expect to see Origi and Fabinho in the second half.
No changes for either team as the second half kicks off. Liverpool have started this half much brighter than the first. They get three quick set pieces, but fail to make any of them count. Still, the ball is on the right side of the pitch, which is more than can be said for most of the previous 45 minutes.
Salah nearly plays in Firmino on the break, but it’s cut out by the Southampton defense.
Liverpool get their fifth corner in the 55th minute, and Milner nearly sneaks it into the corner of the net, but it’s barely wide. In the next minute, Salah gets one on one with the keeper, but the resulting shot is an easy save for Gunn and a disappointing effort from Salah. It probably should be 2-0.
Liverpool are pushing for a second goal here with a sustained spell of pressure. Exciting to see the players successfully completing passes to one another, a nice change from the first half. They’re slowly building with patient passes and attempted crosses that the Southampton players can’t seem to clear. It finally ends without a goal when Milner shoots high over the crossbar.
Oh, how, how, how? In the 64th minute, the Reds are on the breakaway with Wijnaldum delivering a perfect ball to Mané out wide. Mané rolls the ball right to Bobby’s feet as he charges up the middle, but the Brazilian steers it just wide of the mark. Hard not to feel that one in the gut. Let’s hope that we don’t end up needing these missed chances. It’s probably about time to get some fresh legs for Liverpool.
GOAL!! 70’ - Firmino makes sure you regret doubting him. Southampton lose the plot in their own half, and Mané wriggles the ball away on the edge of the home team’s box. Mané gets it to Firmino, who glides through the box, past several defenders, and sinks it into the far corner.
The 73rd minute sees Liverpool’s first change, with Milner being replaced by Fabinho. Milner has looked tired this whole half. A free kick from Alexander-Arnold after the switch nearly leads to another goal from Mané, but Gunn gets a hand on it and sends it out for a corner instead.
Salah goes off without a goal, replaced by Divock Origi up front for the last 10-ish minutes.
Angus Gunn is the only thing stopping Liverpool from running up the scoreline against Southampton. He’s made some impressive stops in this second half. On the other end, Adrian has to make a diving save against Matip’s wayward clearance, preventing a truly embarrassing own goal from the defender.
Goal 83’ - Well. Speaking of embarrassing: the first half was a warning shot. This time Adrian once again lets some pressure get the best of him, playing the ball straight at Danny Ings, who scores. Gonna go out on a limb and say we’re gonna see plenty of attackers doing that to Adrian from now on. Y I K E S.
That horrifying mistake seems to have rocked Liverpool to the core. Ings misses a sitter minutes later that probably should have leveled the game. Woof. The final whistle could sound any time now.
The last change of the game is Jordan Henderson for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The fourth official announces four added minutes. Hold onto yer butts.
It might not be fair to judge Adrian solely on that huge blunder, because he had a pretty good game otherwise. I can also remember Alisson making a similarly terrible mistake early on last season that lead to a goal. But oof, that one hurt. Still, under less than ideal circumstances, the Reds have bagged themselves another three points.