It seemed like a Southampton Alumni game at St. Mary’s Stadium, as five former Saints’ players appeared for Liverpool in the Reds 2-0 victory that sent them back into control of third place in the Premier League.
The match started out in typical Liverpool fashion: with a goal.
Just six minutes into the match, star winger Mohamed Salah found himself with the ball on the right side, cut in and slid the ball across to Roberto Firmino, who hit home his 12th Premier League goal of the season. The goal marked just the third time in the last 16 seasons that Liverpool have had a pair of teammates with over 20 goals in all competitions (Salah with 28, Bobby with 20). 1-0 Reds.
The only thing that made the goal better was a wry smile from the former Saint, Virgil van Dijk, just 15 seconds prior to Firmino’s goal being scored. Amazing.
Southampton proceeded to dominate possession while the Reds were content with the lead they had.
In the 17th minute, Loris Karius got his first test in net, using his body to block Pierre-Emile Højbjerg’s shot from less than 10 yards out.
Poor Andy Robertson just wasn’t tall enough to prevent the ball getting through to Hjoberg on that play, but luckily, Karius bailed him out. Robertson could learn a thing from a Super Mario jump (no, not Mario Ballotelli).
The game then settled down into a passing-around, attack-fizzling-out kind of game.
It livened up for a brief moment in the 40th minute, when the Saints’ James Ward-Prowse put his head on a cross, only to see the ball bounce carefully into the hands of Karius.
Then came the 42nd minute of magic from Mo and Bobby (Hey, Disney Channel, I just gave you an idea for a TV show. Use it wisely).
Salah received the ball just outside the eighteen, played a flick to Bobby, who then took his back heel and scooped it through to a cutting Mo, and then … bang. A one-touch finish from Salah doubled the lead for the Reds. 2-0 Reds.
After halftime, Southampton and their fans were dejected, forcing themselves to be excited at the idea of booing Liverpool players who were former members of their club whenever they touched the ball.
Liverpool had their chances in the 2nd half, but they were all misses. Sadio Mane should’ve bagged a third for the Reds, but his long dribble died out after his shot slammed into the back of a defender, and Robertson put the rebound wide.
Mane got another crack when Georginio Wijnaldum dummied a pass to the Senegal international, who took his time and hit it high and wide. Sigh.
Another ex-Saint, Adam Lallana, came on late in the match, and almost scored after a great bit of interplay with Salah, but his shot went just … WIDE! Yes, you knew it! A typical late game Liverpool shot: close-range and not on target.
The match ended and the boos rained down. 2-0 Final.
- Firmino is the No. 9 Liverpool were hoping he would be. An energetic player, proving to be not only a clinical striker, but a player that can be efficient and hard-working without the ball.
- Salah is the PFA Player of the Year. I’ve said it for some time now. Today just reaffirmed that belief, as does every game the man plays.
- VvD, Lallana, Lovren, Mane. Boy, Southampton had some good players (minus Dejan). Liverpool are now reaping the rewards.
- With Chelsea falling apart in recent weeks, a top-4 finish for the Reds is looking very likely. A big match against United on March 10th could possibly be a second-place decider as well.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Mo and Bobby. The Egyptian and Brazilian spearheaded the Liverpool attack, both bagging a goal and an assist. Wonderful stuff from those two, as always.
3 points and a good win. Happy to see the defense see that one off without any hiccups near the end.
That’s all. Thanks again.