Saints punish lacklustre Champions

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Southampton returned to winning ways after an early Danny Ings goal earned them a 1-0 win over champions Liverpool at St Mary’s.

Southampton, without a win in 4 Premier League games, took the initiative early on against a Liverpool side who have struggled for consistency of late following draws against bottom Newcastle and West Brom over the festive period. A second minute free kick from captain James Ward Prowse was failed to be cleared by Liverpool defender Alexander-Arnold. Ings pounced on the mistake, turning and lobbing the ball over the head of goalkeeper Alisson to give Saints the lead, the former Liverpool man’s second goal against his old club.

Saints continued to impress throughout the remainder of the first half as a sloppy Liverpool continued to give the ball away and were fortunate to remain only 1 behind as Moussa Djenepo blazed over the bar. He would be replaced by Nathan Tella after limping off with injury, the only downside to the whole evening for Southampton.

Liverpool dominated the ball in the second half but could not make the inroads to get back into the game.  The away side had 2 penalty shouts waived away by referee Andre Marriner, the second one perhaps a bit fortuitous after replays showed that Walker-Peters had made contact with Liverpool winger Sadio Mane in the area.  The champions however, continued to barely threaten throughout the second half, with good defending by Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens thwarting Liverpool’s attack on numerous occasions.  For all their possession, Liverpool could only muster one shot on target, a tame effort at that as Mane’s shot was easily collected by Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster around 15 minutes from full time.

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Southampton may also feel aggrieved that they did not put the game out of sight in the last few minutes as Yan Valery beat Alisson to a long pass from the back.  However, the Liverpool goalkeeper’s blushes were spared as the shot from Valery did not quite have the legs to find the net and was cleared away.

The win lifts Southampton to sixth in the table, level on points with both Tottenham and Manchester City although both those sides have a better goal difference and games in hand respectively.  Nonetheless Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was proud of the performance and was visibly emotional at the final whistle. He told BBC Sport ‘There were tears in my eyes – because of the wind! When you see our guys fighting with everything they have it makes me really proud. You need to have the perfect game against Liverpool and I think we did have that.’

Next up for Saints is an FA Cup third round tie at home to Shrewsbury on Saturday before returning to Premier League action against top four rivals and possible title challengers Leicester on January 16th.

FT: SOUTHAMPTON 1-0 Liverpool (Ings 2′).

Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand (booked), Armstrong, Diallo, Ward-Prowse, Djenpo (Tella 32′), Ings (N’Lundulu 77), Walcott (Valery 82′). Unused Subs: Long, Smallbone, Vokins, Ramsay, Lewis, Chauke.

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Milner 77′), Henderson, Fabinho, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Shaqiri 56′), Thiago, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mane. Unused Subs: Jones, Minamino, Origi, Rhys Williams, Phillips, Kelleher, Neco Williams.

Wessex Scene Man of the Match: Jan Bednarek (Southampton).

Referee: Andre Marriner.

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