Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Missed Saints chances give Reds narrow win

Southampton were defeated 2-1 by Liverpool on Saturday afternoon but can take courage from a much-improved display.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side were guilty of missing some good chances in the first-half and were punished by a superb goal from former Saints man Sadio Mane.

Roberto Firmino then doubled the Reds’ lead in the second-half before Danny Ings pulled a late goal back, but the Saints striker missed a huge chance at the end to level in stoppage-time.

Ahead of the game, Ralph Hasenhuttl set his team out in a 5-3-2 system and made two changes to his line-up – Jack Stephens and Danny Ings dropped out for Maya Yoshida and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.

Perhaps the biggest news was that Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian started despite injuring his ankle during the Super Cup win over Chelsea in midweek.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 17: Georginio Wijnaldum of Liverpool competes for the ball with Danny Ings of Southampton and James Ward-Prowse of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary’s Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

It was Saints who started strongly in the first-half, and this was much-needed after their poor opening day loss to Burnley last weekend.

The first real effort on goal came 17 minutes in when James Ward-Prowse’s corner was thumped towards goal by the head of Maya Yoshida, but Adrian flew to his left superbly to tip his effort wide.

Mo Salah then sliced a volley wide before Saints striker Che Adams had a great chance to net his first competitive goal for the club.

Oriol Romeu swung in a first-time cross from the right and found Adams rising to head in between defenders, but the ball drifted over the bar with the forward well-positioned.

Inevitably, these missed opportunities came back to haunt Saints as Sadio Mane opened the scoring; working a small amount of space and curling brilliantly into the far corner.

Into the second-half, Roberto Firmino missed one guilt-edged opportunity but then took full advantage of some overplaying by Maya Yoshida and Jan Bednarek.

The Brazilian drove across the box before cutting a powerful shot back into the left corner with Angus Gunn wrong-footed.

Gunn then saved well to deny Andy Robertson after neat build-up play, but Saints were handed a lifeline by Adrian with seven minutes remaining.

The goalkeeper delayed playing the ball out too long as he was charged down by Danny Ings and ended up playing an attempted pass against the striker’s legs, meaning the ball cannoned back into his own net.

After their performance, no one could have begrudged Saints a draw at St Mary’s and Ings should have given them that.

Controlled play late on saw Yan Valery receive the ball on the right side of the penalty area and play a superb ball across goal. Ings arrived and looked more likely to score than miss from close-range, but could only flick the ball past the far post.

Saints now travel across the South Coast to play Brighton at the Amex Stadium next weekend, whilst Liverpool host Arsenal.

Saints team

Gunn, Valery, Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand (Djenepo 77), Romeu (Ings 64), Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Adams (Armstrong 68)

Subs not used: Obafemi, Forster, Danso, Cedric

Liverpool team

Adrian, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, van-Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner (Fabinho 74), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Henderson 89), Salah (Origi 79), Firmino, Mane

Subs not used: Lonergan, Lallana, Gomez, Shaqiri