It was far from pretty or impressive, but Liverpool earned a vital win in their pursuit of a top-four finish.
Liverpool 2-0 Southampton
Premier League (34), Anfield
May 8, 2021
Mane 31′ (assist: Salah)
Thiago 90′ (assist: Firmino)
The two centre-backs signed in January were added to the injury list for this game, meaning Rhys Williams made his third Premier League start, alongside Nat Phillips.
With 10 players in total sidelined, Ben Woodburn was named on the bench for the first time in just over two years and Billy Koumetio was in a Premier League squad for the first time.
Diogo Jota got the nod up front ahead of Roberto Firmino but it was Sadio Mane who was in the central position in attack.
And it was Mane who got the opening goal on the half-hour, scoring at Anfield for the first time in 2021 when heading in Mo Salah‘s in-swinging cross at the back post.
Mane’s goal arrived less than a minute after Southampton should have taken the lead on the counter, but Alisson came to the rescue to deny Che Adams when the visitors broke two vs. one.
Before that sequence, it was Jota who arguably had the best chance of the opening half an hour. Without a goal in his last five appearances, he fired straight at Fraser Forster after a decent move from the Reds.
Salah also had a clear chance, while Gini Wijnaldum headed onto the bar from a corner just before the half-hour. Creating chances wasn’t an issue, but again the finishing wasn’t clinical.
Half time: Liverpool 1-0 Southampton
- Mane gets his first Anfield goal in 2021
- Thiago nets his first goal for LFC
- A first home clean sheet since January
- Reds go 6th; 6 points behind Leicester with a game in hand
Liverpool found themselves in a familiar position, leading 1-0. In both their last two games – against Leeds and Newcastle – they’d conceded late on to drop points and that fear was there throughout the second half.
It was not to be a repeat this time, though it did take until the 90th minute to make it 2-0 when Thiago scored his first goal for the club.
The Spaniard curled in a lovely finish from the edge of the box to secure the three points and a vital win in the race for the top four.
Liverpool had their goalkeeper to thank before that, with Alisson making a couple of smart saves and interceptions when Southampton got in behind.
Next time the Reds are at Anfield it will be the final game of the season, against Crystal Palace, with 10,000 supporters in attendance – and a potentially massive game to achieve Champions League qualification.
Before then it’s three away games, starting with the re-arranged match at Old Trafford on Thursday. Man United play twice before that game – and Liverpool fans will be hoping they beat Leicester on Tuesday to aid the Reds’ top-four chances.
This result means Liverpool are six points behind fourth-placed Leicester, with a game in hand over Brendan Rodgers’ side.
TIA Man of the Match: Alisson
Referee: Kevin Friend
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, R.Williams, Phillips, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Wijnaldum; Salah (Oxlade-Chamberlain 87′), Mane (Jones 90+2′), Jota (Firmino 79′)
Subs not used: Adrian, Koumetio, N.Williams, Tsimikas, Woodburn, Shaqiri
Southampton: Forster; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Vestegaard, Stephens; Tella (Diallo 66′), Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Redmond; Walcott (Obafemi 66′), Adams (Djenepo 79′)
Subs not used: McCarthy, Salisu, Ramsay, N’Lundulu, Ferry, Jankewitz
Next Match: Man United (A) – Premier League – Thursday, May 13, 8.15pm (BST)