Liverpool fell to a 1-0 defeat away to Southampton in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final at St. Mary’s on Wednesday night.
Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
League Cup Semi-Final First Leg, St. Mary’s
January 11, 2017
Redmond 20′ (assist – Rodriguez)
As they continue their busy January by dipping back into cup competition, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds took to Hampshire for the first of two League Cup semi-final clashes against Southampton.
After a disappointing 0-0 draw with Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup third round three days previous, Liverpool were in need of a strong performance at St. Mary’s.
Klopp had named the club’s youngest-ever starting lineup for the clash with the Devon outfit, but returned with a more experienced setup against the Saints, making eight changes.
Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge were named in attack, while Philippe Coutinho took his place on the substitutes’ bench after recovering from a long-term ankle injury, giving Liverpool a big boost in reserve.
Having already played out a stalemate away to Claude Puel’s men in the Premier League in November, the Reds pushed for a more emphatic result in the cup, but they went one worse.
- Coutinho back for first time since November
- Redmond puts Southampton ahead despite Karius heroics
- Klopp turns to Coutinho on the hour mark
- Few chances of merit produced by either side
- Reds now must overturn the deficit at Anfield on January 25
Liverpool spent the opening stages of the clash testing the waters outside the Southampton penalty area, with both Firmino and ex-Saints right-back Nathaniel Clyne having long-range shots blocked.
With the home side sitting back, much as Plymouth did at the weekend, the Reds were forced to get creative in the final third, and an unorthodox knock-down from Adam Lallana saw Firmino stopped from close range by Fraser Forster.
Southampton did attack on the break, however, and while Loris Karius made a smart stop to deny Nathan Redmond initially, the young winger broke the deadlock shortly after, tucking home following an error from Ragnar Klavan.
With the Saints taking the lead, Puel’s side grew in confidence, while also allowing themselves the luxury of sitting back when required, forming a rigid low block in defence.
They remained the most threatening side, though, and only more excellent goalkeeping from Karius kept Redmond from adding to his tally, making a fine stop to keep it 1-0 at the break.
Shaken by their poor first half, Liverpool began the second in similar vein, struggling to break down the Southampton defence and not looking confident when their opponents pushed forward.
This prompted Klopp to shuffle his pack, and it was Coutinho who got the call from the substitutes’ bench, with the Brazilian replacing Georginio Wijnaldum just after the hour mark, for his first appearance in two months.
The No. 10 troubled the Southampton defence immediately, dribbling through and winning a corner, but the resulting set-piece came to nothing, with Cedric Soares then firing wide at the other end.
After a tepid period of few chances at either end, Redmond almost grabbed another following a slip from Lucas Leiva, but Dejan Lovren was there to make the block on the goal-line.
Despite Klopp sending on Divock Origi as support for Sturridge, there was no response from the travelling Reds, with the final whistle blown to hand Southampton a one-goal lead heading to Anfield.
TIA Man of the Match: Loris Karius
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Southampton: Forster; Cedric, Yoshida, Van Dijk, Bertrand; Clasie (Hojbjerg 73′), Romeu, Davis (Ward-Prowse 81′); Redmond, Tadic, Rodriguez (Long 81′)
Subs not used: Lewis, McQueen, Stephens, Sims
Liverpool: Karius; Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner; Lucas, Wijnaldum (Coutinho 61′), Can; Firmino (Origi 82′), Lallana, Sturridge
Subs not used: Mignolet, Gomez, Moreno, Stewart, Woodburn
Next match: Manchester United (A) – Premier League – January 15