Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool overran a miserable Southampton on Wednesday night, hitting six past Maarten Stekelenburg to seal a League Cup semi-final.
Southampton 1-6 Liverpool
League Cup Quarter-Final – St. Mary’s Stadium – Wednesday, 2nd December, 2015
Goals: Mane 1′ – Sturridge 25′, 29′, Origi 45′, 69′, 85′, Ibe 73′
Fielding a half-rotated side for his side’s trip to the south coast to take on Southampton, Klopp saw his bold approach rewarded with a 6-1 win at St. Mary’s.
The German made six changes to his starting lineup from Sunday’s 1-0 win at home to Swansea City, with a first start of his tenure for Daniel Sturridge.
The 26-year-old striker joined Divock Origi and Adam Lallana in attack, ahead of a three-man midfield of Lucas Leiva, Emre Can and Joe Allen, while Connor Randall came in for Nathaniel Clyne in defence alongside regulars Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Alberto Moreno.
Replacing Simon Mignolet as Liverpool’s goalkeeper for this League Cup clash, Adam Bogdan made only his third appearance for the club.
Team spirit proved the difference on the night, as the Reds dominated amid calmer conditions than Sunday’s windswept victory.
It took Southampton just 42 seconds to go 1-0 up, with Sadio Mane headed home from Ryan Bertrand’s cross, giving Bogdan no chance from point-blank range.
Both Can and Moreno were at fault despite a pedestrian forward move from the Saints.
Victor Wanyama almost came close to give Southampton a double four minutes later, but Bogdan was on hand to catch his bullet header after a fine cross from Dusan Tadic.
Southampton‘s early opener set up a tense contest, with a number of late tackles flying in in the middle of the park and some high-tempo, end-to-end football enthralling St. Mary’s.
As the intensity heightened and the pace increased, Sturridge came to the fore.
Firstly a perfectly weighted through ball from Allen set the former Chelsea man through to fire home beyond a flailing Stekelenburg, before a finessed pass from Can gave him the simplest of first-time finishes to put Liverpool 2-1 up before the half-hour mark.
The travelling support revelled in Liverpool’s show of strength and fortitude, as “we are Liverpool” rang around the stadium, and their enthusiasm was rewarded further before the break.
Following through as Virgil van Dijk cleared Lallana’s corner, Moreno drilled in a powerful strike from 30-yards which was turned in by Origi.
Misery rained on Ronald Koeman as the two sides went in for the interval at 3-1.
Southampton started the second half the brighter side, no doubt following an outing from the hairdryer during the break, as Koeman’s side pressed strongly and pushed the ball into dangerous wide areas.
But with Liverpool proving their defensive credentials in the opening stages, Klopp saw fit to withdraw his star striker, with Jordon Ibe taking Sturridge’s place on 59 minutes.
The travelling Kop stood to applaud their two-goal hero, who will be looking to preserve his fitness for Saturday’s clash with Newcastle United.
One player who will miss that outing, however, is Can, who—rather questionably—received his fifth yellow card of the season on 66 minutes.
Origi ensured Sturridge’s absence was not felt too harshly, giving Liverpool a fourth goal following some great lateral movement to thwart a sluggish Southampton defence.
Ibe, provider for Origi’s second, added Liverpool’s fifth just minutes later, taking the ball down on his chest inside the penalty area before drilling his shot low into the bottom corner, with the travelling Kop turning it up to 11 in the away end.
Despite Southampton battening down for damage limitations as the final 10 minutes played out, Liverpool continued to relentlessly press in the final third.
Origi’s endeavour was flourished with a third goal, with substitute Brad Smith delivering a pinpoint cross to gift the 20-year-old his hat-trick with a simple header.
From a nightmare start to a dream ending, Liverpool’s feel-good factor continued with another rout.
Southampton: Stekelenburg; Cedric (Ward-Prowse 63′), Van Dijk, Caulker, Bertrand; Clasie (Long 63′), Wanyama; Davis (Romeu 77′), Tadic, Mane; Pelle
Substitutes: Gazzaniga, Yoshida,, Martina,, Juanmi
Liverpool: Bogdan; Randall, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno (Smith 77′); Allen (Henderson 76′), Lucas, Can; Lallana, Sturridge (Ibe 59′), Origi
Subs not used: Mignolet, Milner, Firmino, Benteke
TIA Man of the Match: Divock Origi
Referee: Bobby Madley