EFL Cup

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool gives instructions during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Lackluster Liverpool stuttering ahead of Man United clash

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SOUTHAMPTON — Somehow Liverpool is still in with a chance of making the EFL Cup final but their shaky form continues.

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Liverpool lost 1-0 at Southampton in the EFL Cup semifinal first leg on Wednesday but the Premier League title contenders should’ve lost by two or three to out-of-form Saints.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side, who have now drawn with PL relegation strugglers Sunderland, then League Two side Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup and lost to Southampton in their last three games, never got going at a chilly St Mary’s on the south coast of England and that’s not good news ahead of their massive Premier League clash against Manchester United on Sunday.

Liverpool dominated possession but apart from a first half chance for Roberto Firmino they hardly threatened Southampton’s defense.

Speaking after the game Klopp admitted he was an off day for his side.

“After we conceded one goal obviously the game changed. Even if I try to explain it, it is not that easy. I am actually not used to a reaction like this from my boys. We have to accept tonight was not good,” Klopp said. “We were dominant second half and they had one or two counter attacks, that’s how it is. It is not a big problem. We have to defend them with passion. We had not a lot of chances. If we had some, Roberto Firmino first half, one or two other moments. We had a lot of moments in around the box where we could have had a chance but we didn’t make it.”

Was the fact that Liverpool escaped Southampton with a 1-0 defeat a plus for Klopp?

“The only one, actually,” Klopp said. “It is the third best result if you don’t win. Drawing or losing 1-0 is the best result, I don’t like it too much. This team always shows a reaction. We have to show a reaction in this cup against Southampton but it would be cool if we could already show a reaction at the weekend because we probably need a better performance to get something at Old Trafford.”

Ahead of the derby at United, Liverpool looked uncharacteristically disjointed in attack with Sadio Mane away at the African Cup of Nations, Daniel Sturridge ineffective and the duo of Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino patrolling the same spaces and shut down. It was an off day in attack for a Liverpool side who are the highest scorers in the Premier League but have now failed to score at St Mary’s on their last two visits.

Luckily for Liverpool, Southampton’s attack had yet another off day too as they continue to miss the presence of leading goalscorer Charlie Austin who is out through injury.

Saints goalscorer Nathan Redmond summed up just how wasteful he Saints were.

“I should have had four goals today. I didn’t realize how much time I had but I will learn from those mistakes. At least we won and we can take a lead to Anfield.”

He was right.

Redmond was twice denied by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, who was their best player, and he somehow clipped the bar when clean though on the break as Cedric and the impressive Virgil Van Dijk also went close for Saints.

Aside from Karius’ display the fact that Liverpool is  just a goal down going into the second leg at Anfield in two weeks time is the major plus for Klopp.

He admitted that Karius “kept them in the game” and the German coach believes his side still have a great chance of advancing to the final where they will likely face old foes Manchester United who beat Hull City 2-0 in their semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

Klopp knows his side got away from St Mary’s with an extremely favorable 1-0 defeat on Wednesday. It’s not often an almost full-strength Liverpool side can say that.

“The performance doesn’t feel too good, that’s how it is. But for the final everything is open, still,” Klopp said. “At the moment, there are two disappointed managers after the game. One because he lost and the performance wasn’t good. One because he only won 1-0 and has to go to Anfield for the second leg afterwards. We will strike back, we will be a different team. Everything will be different at Anfield.”

Game on. See you at Anfield on Jan. 25.

EFL Cup semis, leg 1: Southampton 1-0 Liverpool

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Loris Karius and Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool look on as Nathan Redmond of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Southampton find themselves 90 minutes from their first major Cup final since 2003 (FA Cup — lost to Arsenal) after edging Liverpool, 1-0 at St. Mary’s Stadium, in the first leg of the EFL Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

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Fraser Forster made the game’s first save (his only save for 60 minutes) in the 18th minute, denying a criminally unmarked Roberto Firmino from 12 yards out, at which point it turned into the Nathan Redmond versus Loris Karius show.

Liverpool’s oft-criticized, 23-year-old ‘keeper made a pair of spectacular saves to thwart Redmond, denying him from close range in the 19th and 43rd minutes, to limit Saints’ halftime advantage to 1-0.

Redmond would get the better of Karious, though, in the 20th minute, timing his run perfectly to remain onside until the moment Jay Rodriguez slipped the ball into acres of space for the speedy winger. Karius rushed off his line to close down the angle, but the finish was low and to the far post. 1-0, Saints.

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Saints nearly made it 2-0 in the 65th minute, when Redmond played Cedric through down the right side of the penalty area. With Jay Rodriguez looming large in front of goal, the Portuguese full back opted to shoot from a tight angle rather than cross for Rodriguez, and his shot skewed wide of Karius’ near post.

Redmond went even closer to doubling Saints’ lead in the 82nd minute, but his deftly chipped effort clanged off the crossbar after Shane Long won the ball on the left wing and crossed for Redmond. Karius again came rushing out, but Redmond’s shot eluded his outstretched hand before coming back off the underside of the crossbar. So nearly a two-goal lead.

Liverpool will host the second leg at Anfield in two weeks’ time, Wednesday, Jan. 25, with the winner advancing to the final at Wembley Stadium, where they’ll face the winner of Manchester United versus Hull City in the other semifinal (Man United won the first leg at home, 2-0 on Tuesday).

EFL Cup semi — HT: Redmond puts Saints ahead of Liverpool (video)

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Nathan Redmond of Southampton celebrates as he scores their first goal during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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In a first half largely dominated by the home side, Nathan Redmond nabbed a richly deserved opening goal (below video) to give Southampton a 1-0 lead at the quarter mark of Saints’ EFL Cup semifinal tie with Liverpool.

[ LIVE: Follow EFL Cup scores ]

Loris Karius, Liverpool’s oft-criticized, young goalkeeper, was outstanding in the opening 45 minutes, making four saves in total, two of which came in spectacular fashion to prevent a difference on the scoreboard more representative of the general run of play.

Jurgen Klopp will likely ease Philippe Coutinho, who’s missed the last six weeks with an ankle injury, back into the side as the second half wears on, as the Reds chase a vital away goal in the first leg.

LIVE – EFL Cup semi: Saints vs. Liverpool

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 19: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool (L) chases Jay Rodriguez of Southampton (R) during the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Southampton and Liverpool follow-up Tuesday’s EFL Cup semifinal first leg by holding one of their own at St. Mary’s.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. EDT.

On Tuesday, Manchester United beat Hull City 2-0 at Old Trafford to move Jose Mourinho to within 90 minutes of his first Cup final with the Red Devils.

[ LIVE: Follow EFL Cup scores ]

As for Saints and Liverpool:

  • Southampton is yet to win an EFL Cup, only making one final in 1979.
  • Liverpool is the most-accomplished EFL Cup club in history, snaring 8, last winning in 2012.

LINEUPS

Southampton: Forster, Cédric, van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Clasie, Romeu, Davis, Tadić, Redmond, Rodriguez. Subs: Lewis, Long, Ward-Prowse, Hojbjerg, Stephens, McQueen, Sims.

Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino, Sturridge. Subs: Mignolet, Gomez, Moreno, Stewart, Coutinho, Woodburn, Origi.

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After Man Utd win, Mourinho already focused on Liverpool

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10:  Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United celebrates with Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United after scoring his sides second goal during the EFL Cup Semi-Final First Leg match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on January 10, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Even after moving to within 90 minutes of a trip to Wembley, Jose Mourinho couldn’t help but talk about Sunday’s visit from his rivals.

Mourinho is looking forward to Manchester United’s season rematch with Liverpool, a Sunday affair at 11 a.m. EDT.

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United beat Hull City 2-0 in the first leg of their EFL Cup semifinal, getting goals from Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini. The second tally inspired the big-haired midfielder to spring over to Mourinho for a huge, nearly knocking the manager of his pegs.

After the game, though, Mourinho was all business (From ManUtd.com):

“Now this game is over, I think about Sunday. And Sunday, I need to do better, the players need to do better and the stadium has to do better too. Everybody likes big games – players, managers, fans… everyone loves big matches so let’s go for that one on Sunday.”

United and Liverpool drew 0-0 at Anfield in October, and Mourinho thought the Red Devils should’ve picked up a win. United has won nine-straight in all competitions, six in the Premier League, as it’s surged to within three points of the Top Four and five points of second place Liverpool.

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