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Southampton 0-2 Liverpool: Salah, Firmino thrill

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  • Reds go third
  • Salah, Firmino each w/ goal, assist
  • Saints sink 18th

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah assisted on each other’s goals as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Sunday.

The Reds are two points behind Manchester United for second in the Premier League, while Saints dip into the drop zone with 26 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool was ahead after six minutes, with Mohamed Salah receiving the luxury of a wide open Sadio Mane and Firmino. He chose the latter, and the latter chose to finish beyond the reach of Alex McCarthy. 1-0, Reds.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot deflected toward a diving McCarthy moments later.

Saints were on the verge of equalizing when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg trapped a diagonal ball in the 18, but Loris Karius came charging to make a fine save.

James Ward-Prowse swept a cross to the penalty spot, where Guido Carrillo forced a save out of Karius with a header. Moments later, Dusan Tadic sent one to Ward-Prowse, whose header was palmed out for a corner by Karius.

Saints were on the front foot for the remainder of the half, that is excepting Liverpool’s crucial second goal. Salah and Firmino worked a 1-2 which included a back heel from the Brazilian. 2-0, 42′.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Ward-Prowse hit a hard free kick to the front post, and Hoedt couldn’t quite turn it past Karius as the match remained 2-0 in the 60th minute.

Salah collected a Firmino rebound off a Mane-inspired combination, but saw a rare miss hit the outside of the side netting.

Substitute Adam Lallana nearly found the side panel against his old team, but shot wide of the far post.

WATCH LIVE: Southampton vs. Liverpool

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Three ex-Saints start for Liverpool as Virgil Van Dijk makes his much-anticipated return to St. Mary’s on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Van Dijk is joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane, with Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana on the bench to complete a quintet of former Southampton players for the visitors.

Southampton starts the steely-midfield of Oriol Romeu and Mario Lemina.

LINEUPS

Southampton: McCarthy, Cédric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand (c), Romeu, Lemina, Højbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Tadić, Carrillo. Subs: Forster, Yoshida, Davis, Boufal, Redmond, Long, Gabbiadini.

Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Mane, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Salah, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Lovren, Milner, Moreno, Lallana, Ings, Solanke.

Lovren bets he’ll get more boos than Van Dijk

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Sunday’s Premier League tilt between Liverpool and Southampton at St. Mary’s is bound to be fueled by vitriol (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Huddersfield buries Bournemouth ]

A bevy of ex-Saints are returning to their former home, including this season’s wantaway Virgil Van Dijk.

And while he’s going to be booed with vigor, Dejan Lovren has made the bizarre claim that he’ll hear more of the catcalls.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“I’m still number one! Maybe Virgil is behind me? Let’s see what will happen. Let’s see between me and Virgil who will have the higher decibels [of boos].

“I had a great time at Southampton and will always be thankful for that. I never had any feelings of hate towards the Southampton fans – they helped me and of course, they made some good business.”

We’ll go ahead and wager there’s no chance Lovren is booed more than Van Dijk. In fact, Sadio Mane may be higher up the Reds’ ex-Saints booing order.

Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana are probably safe.

VIDEO: Adam Lallana sent off for attacking opponent during U-23 match

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England international Adam Lallana has made just six appearances for Liverpool this season due to hamstring and groin injuries, and the club is working him back slowly to ensure he makes a full recovery.

He is finally healthy and now focusing on returning to match fitness, which saw him assigned to Liverpool’s U-23 match against Tottenham on Monday. It did not go well.

Lallana, after losing out on a one-on-one aerial duel with 19-year-old defensive midfielder George Marsh, attacked Marsh by grabbing his neck from behind and shoving the top of his head down. The referee had no choice but to send Lallana to the showers in the 63rd minute after his act of petulance.

It seems that the former Southampton man was upset about the way Marsh came into the aerial challenge roughly from behind Lallana, and after a split-second to think about things while working his way up off the ground, he attacks Marsh who had moved on to follow the play.

Liverpool’s U-23 side found itself down to nine men later as 19-year-old defender George Johnston was also sent off for a second yellow card in the 87th minute. Spurs would win the match 1-0 on a goal just after halftime from Jack Roles, despite the presence of four Liverpool senior squad members, including Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke.

Swansea 1-0 Liverpool: Last-place Swans shock Reds

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  • Swansea shock Liverpool in game of few chances
  • Mawson sweeps home the winner — 40′
  • Reds’ 14-game PL unbeaten run ends
  • Swans now 2W-1D-1L under Carvalhal

From the high of snapping Manchester City’s unbeaten run (30 games dating back to last season) and bid for an unbeaten 2017-18 Premier League season, to being beaten by last-place Swansea City… in back-to-back games… all in the span of eight days.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

On Monday, Swansea topped Liverpool, 1-0 at the Liberty Stadium, to claim just their fifth PL victory all season; two of the five have come in the first three weeks of new manager Carlos Carvalhal’s tenure (four games).

Virgil Van Dijk cost Liverpool $100 million, but he’s yet to arrest the Reds’ woeful set-piece defending. It was the big Dutchman who failed to head the ball clear from the Swans’ 40th-minute corner kick. After an unfortunate bounce in the box, the ball fell to Mawson just 10 yards out. The young Welshman swept his right foot through the ball and Loris Karius could do nothing about it.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Liverpool’s first surefire chance of the second half came in the 60th minute, when Mohamed Salah delicately lifted just over the wall a free kick from 22 yards out. The ball quickly fell as it neared goal, but Lukasz Fabianski reacted quicker and pushed it over the crossbar at full-stretch to preserve the lead at 1-0.

Right on 94 minutes, with the referee staring at his watch, Roberto Firmino headed off Fabianski’s right-hand post and Adam Lallana missed an open-net follow-up, somehow booting the ball well over the bar from three yards out.

Despite holding over 70 percent of possession on the night, Liverpool put on target just four of their 21 total shots.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

With the defeat, Liverpool (47 points) fail to capitalize on Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday. Having ultimately gained a point in Round 24, Tottenham now trail Liverpool by just two points in the race for fourth. The two sides meet in two weeks’ time, on Sunday, Feb. 4, at Anfield.

Swansea (20 points), meanwhile, have done nearly enough to climb out of the PL cellar, but remain 20th out of 20 teams on goal differential. Three points stand between them and safety.