Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool's Klopp frustrated by stunning Southampton revival

Southampton 3 - Liverpool 2

By Nick Szczepanik

Liverpool's chances of reaching the Champions League effectively vanished yesterday in an astonishing match at St Mary's. After being 2-0 up at the interval and cruising, they collapsed to a 3-2 loss as Southampton manager Ronald Koeman's substitutions turned the game on its head.

Sadio Mané came off the bench to score twice, although the substitution did not look quite so clever when the Senegal forward had a penalty saved by Simon Mignolet three minutes after taking the field and with Liverpool still 2-0 up.

But the three points have Saints fans and manager alike calculating the possibilities of a return to the Europa League.

"That's good because you are fighting for something until the end of the season," Koeman said.

Liverpool had scored through Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge and could have had more. But Koeman's introduction of Mané - available for the match after the Saints had appealed successfully against the red card he was shown in the victory away to Stoke City nine days ago - made a difference.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp's own introduction at the break of Martin Skrtel in favour of former Saint Dejan Lovren, who had been booked, was less successful as Graziano Pelle dominated the Slovakian.

Klopp said: "There are still 27 points to get, but we don't have to dream of things like this. We have to play football and win. If we play like we did in the first-half we can win. If we play like in the second it's more difficult.

"I'm not a good loser so I don't feel brilliant, as you can imagine, but I'm not angry, I am frustrated that we got nothing."

Liverpool had a narrow escape early on when referee Roger East ignored claims that Lovren had pushed Shane Long over in the penalty area. They took advantage after 17 minutes when Coutinho curled a low shot past Fraser Forster from 25 yards.

Four minutes later, Liverpool broke quickly, Divock Origi found Sturridge, and the England striker sidestepped Ryan Bertrand and fired home.

After 48 minutes East did award a penalty to Southampton when Skrtel pulled Pelle's shirt. Mignolet dived to his right to save Mané's kick, but in the 64th minute, Mané twisted past Mamadou Sakho and netted.

Even then, Liverpool continued to make openings, but Christian Benteke scuffed the best one wide, and instead of 3-1 it was 2-2 after 83 minutes when Pelle won a long high ball against Skrtel, took a return pass from Long and smacked it in.

Three minutes later, the comeback was complete. Skrtel missed a header and Pelle played the ball for Mané to roll a shot into the net as Koeman sprinted joyfully along the touchline.

"It is the first time and I think the last time, I am still tired," he said. "Tomorrow is my birthday and this is the best present."

SOUTHAMPTON: Forster, Martina, Fonte, Van Dijk, Bertrand, Davis, Romeu (Ward-Prowse 69),Clasie (Wanyama 45), Tadic (Mané 45), Pellè, Long.

Goals: Mané 64, 86, Pelle 83

Subs not used: Soares, Yoshida, Juanmi, Stekelenburg.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Flanagan, Lovren (Skrtel 45), Sakho, Clyne, Lallana, Can, Allen (Ojo 87), Coutinho, Origi, Sturridge (Benteke 70).

Goals: Coutinho 17, Sturridge 22

Subs not used: Touré, Henderson, Smith, Ward.

Match rating: 9/10

Referee: Roger East

Belfast Telegraph


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