Liverpool and Southampton traded chances but only Sadio Mane delivered a goal in a 1-0 win to buttress the Reds’ top-four hopes on Saturday at Anfield.
Mane’s goal was assisted by Mohamed Salah and the pair provided plenty of threat, but Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster and Liverpool counterpart Alisson Becker mostly held their own under duress.
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Liverpool is a point back of fifth-place West Ham with four matches left each, but will be targeting a Leicester side six points away with only three PL matches left on its docket.
Southampton is still not safe, 10 points clear of the bottom three with the same amount of matches played as 18th place Fulham.
Three things we learned from Liverpool – Southampton
1. Mane, Salah keep knocking at the door: Credit to the misfiring pair of Liverpool wingers — and yes, you can misfire while contending for a Golden Boot — for continuing their work while failing to find the target. Whether it was Fraser Forster making saves or one of the duo not hitting the target, Mane’s header of a Salah cross was a fitting first goal and it carried the day until, well, Thing No. 2.
2. Thiago Alcantara scores classy insurance goal: The 30-year-old Spanish star had yet to score for the Reds and his first goal was memorable and soothing for Jurgen Klopp. Thiago picked up a layoff from Roberto Firmino and calmly cut toward the middle of the arc for a knuckling shot full of venom to make it 2-0.
3. Southampton gets ironic treatment in latest loss: The Saints sat sixth after beating Liverpool 1-0 at St. Mary’s, a shorthanded side performing so well that Ralph Hasnehuttl was driven to tears. He’d have cried more and in a bitter way would he have known that a nine-match winless run with eight losses would follow, and that his team would take just eight more points through its next 17 matches.
Consider this madness: Saints were 8W-5D-4L in their first 17 PL outings. They are 2W-2D-14L since that day.
Man of the Match: Alisson Becker
Mane and Salah were both busy but Alisson intervened on a number of chances, at least three of which qualify as critical to keeping Southampton at zero deep into the contest. Even a late and terrible giveaway to Che Adams saw the Brazilian get low to paw away the chance and rescue his own clean sheet from big-time danger.
Liverpool – Southampton recap
As has often been the case with Liverpool matches this season, it’s difficult to believe the Reds were ahead 1-0 early.
First, Sadio Mane blazed a chance over the bar. Then, Mane stole the ball and fed Mohamed Salah but the Egyptian didn’t return it and opted to hammer a shot that Fraser Forster saved.
The Reds went ahead through Mane, fittingly, when the Senegalese forward leapt to turn a Salah cross over the line moments after Che Adams’ terrific chance was stymied by Alisson Becker at the other end.
Diogo Jota had a good chance in the first half and then forced a save out of Forster from close range early in the second.
Saints found some opportunities and Alisson Becker was fast to react when Michael Obafemi was played into the box.
A Saints mistake helped Mane find Salah on the doorstep, but Jack Stephens slid in front of the Egyptian superstar’s shot.
Obafemi then knocked down a Kyle Walker-Peters cross for substitute Ibrahima Diallo, but his well-struck shot was pushed over the bar by Alisson.