Liverpool closed to within two points of second place in the Premier League as they inflicted more misery on Southampton with a 2-0 win at St Mary’s on Sunday.
Southampton 0 Liverpool 2
Firmino breaks deadlock early on
Karius tips over two headers
Salah makes it 2-0 before HT
Mane misses handful of chances
Jurgen Klopp’s side were on top virtually from the outset as Roberto Firmino put them ahead after six minutes, before Mohamed Salah doubled their lead just before the half-time interval.
The Reds were wasteful in the second half, but the Saints weren’t able to make them pay after struggling to create any meaningful chances.
The hosts got off to the worst possible start as Salah was let in by Wesley Hoedt’s miskick from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ball over the top, and the Egyptian picked out Firmino to beat Alex McCarthy from inside the area with a cool finish on six minutes.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men responded well to the early setback, with Pierre Hojbjerg seeing Loris Karius tip his header over the crossbar from James Ward-Prowse’s cross on the left in the 18th minute.
Sadio Mane failed to hit the target with a low strike from 25 yards out that missed to the left of the goal on 26 minutes, while at the other end Guido Carrillo directed a towering header over the bar from Ward-Prowse’s cross on the right three minutes later, before the midfielder forced Karius into a sharp save with a back-post header soon afterwards.
Mane did well to take Firmino’s through-ball into his stride before stabbing wide of the left post from inside the area on 33 minutes, and Ward-Prowse drew a comfortable save out of Karius seven minutes later with a tame header from Ryan Bertrand’s cross on the left.
However, the Saints suffered a damaging blow just before half-time as Salah doubled the visitors’ lead in the 42nd minute after exquisite link-up play with Firmino. The 2017 African Footballer of the Year played a one-two with the Brazilian, whose clever backheel to put Salah clean through on goal and he slotted into the bottom-left corner of the net from 13 yards out.
Salah was unable to capitalise when Mane’s scissors-kick was blocked by Mario Lemina on 50 minutes, with the Pharaohs star blasting over from 14 yards out, while Hoedt passed up a good chance nine minutes later as he steered Ward-Prowse’s free-kick from the left wide at the near post.
Georginio Wijnaldum skied a first-time shot from Salah’s lay-off outside the box on 63 minutes and Emre Can was also wayward with a long-range strike three minutes later after a cross was cleared out to the German.
McCarthy kept the south-coast club’s hopes alive with a sharp save to deny Firmino on 71 minutes after he was teed up by Mane inside the area, and Salah hit the side-netting on the rebound.
Mane missed the target again five minutes later as he sliced an effort wide of the left post from 14 yards out, while substitute Adam Lallana wasted a gilt-edged chance to wrap up the win in the 85th minute when he fired wide of the left post after being played in on the right by Salah.