First-half goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah secured a routine 2-0 win for Liverpool over Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium, as the Reds reduced the gap between themselves and second-placed Manchester United to just two points with the win.
After the Red Devils had slumped to a shock defeat at Newcastle United earlier on Sunday, the onus was on Jurgen Klopp’s men to make the most of their hated rivals’ debacle and they did so with consummate ease.
A defensive lapse allowed Salah to run through on goal and the Egyptian showed great presence of mind to lay it off for Firmino rather than going alone and the visitors were ahead with just six minutes on the clock.
Plenty of Southampton players have departed the club for Liverpool in recent years but the home crowd reserved their boos for one player and one player only—Virgil van Dijk. The world’s most expensive defender, to his credit, remained unruffled as he went about his business at his old stomping ground.
The Saints didn’t let their heads slump after conceding and began to grow into the game and Pierre Emile Hojberg was afforded a shot on goal after Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson missed a routine header but Loris Karius came up with a smart stop to deny the hosts.
Dusan Tadic would send an inviting cross for James Ward-Prowse at the far post soon after and while the Englishman got plenty behind the header, Karius was equal to the task and tipped it over the bar.
As half-time neared, Liverpool sought to double their lead and effectively put the game to bed and they did just that with Salah and Firmino combining to devastating effect yet again. The Brazilian was the provider this time, with a deft back heel, and Salah stroked home his 22nd league goal of the season without much fuss.
The second period began with Liverpool in the ascendancy and while they could easily have extended their lead on several occasions but for a combination of heroics from Alex McCarthy and profligate finishing prevented them from doing so.
With an away win and clean sheet to boot, Liverpool will prepare for their next clash, a European fixture against FC Porto on Wednesday, with renewed confidence. Their next Premier League tie is at home, against West Ham United on February 24.
For the Saints, their 11th loss of the season doesn’t make for easy viewing and neither does the fact that they find themselves in 18th place with just 11 games to go. They have a FA Cup fifth round clash against West Bromwich Albion to focus on now, before turning their attention towards a Premier League tie with Burnley at Turf Moor on February 24.