Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on target as Liverpool beat Southampton
Goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah left Southampton in the bottom three.
Liverpool climbed back up to third in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory at Southampton that left Mauricio Pellegrino under renewed pressure and his side in the relegation zone.
The home supporters again turned on their manager after their latest defeat, secured by goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, left them in 18th place and took their visitors back above Tottenham.
It also ensured a victorious return to St Mary’s for Virgil van Dijk, the £75million defender who left for Liverpool during the January transfer window.
The pressure on the hosts had increased with earlier victories for Newcastle and Huddersfield, over Manchester United and Bournemouth respectively, that left Saints back in the bottom three.
They had had little time to settle before they fell behind in the sixth minute following another of Liverpool’s swift breaks.
Loris Karius threw possession out to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the one-time Southampton winger curled a ball towards Salah that was missed by the clumsy Wesley Hoedt.
That left Salah with a simple pass to Firmino, who from in front of goal struck first-time beyond Alex McCarthy and into the bottom-right corner.
Owing largely to the vision of James Ward-Prowse, the hosts responded and threatened. The midfielder curled a fine ball over the top of Liverpool’s defence and to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who at the back post hesitated, allowing Karius to spread himself and then comfortably save the shot he eventually produced.
Another cross from Ward-Prowse gave club-record signing Guido Carrillo a header from in front of goal that he nodded downwards to present Karius with a routine save, and then the midfielder tested the goalkeeper with a header of his own.
Meeting Dusan Tadic’s left-wing cross at the back post he forced the diving Karius to tip over the crossbar, and as on so many other occasions this season, Southampton’s profligacy was then punished.
From a seemingly nonthreatening position, Joel Matip found Salah, who towards the edge of the area then ruthlessly exchanged a delightful one-two with Firmino, whose backheel into his path in front of goal was classily dispatched towards the bottom-left corner by the Egyptian for his 29th goal of the season.
Another former Southampton player almost inspired Liverpool to a third goal midway through the second half. Sadio Mane intercepted a ball from Hojbjerg before carrying possession into the penalty area and passing to Firmino, whose low shot was saved by McCarthy but only to Salah, who then struck first-time but into the side netting.
Mane then also struck harmlessly wide, despite time and space, following a through-ball from Firmino during a period in which the hosts offered little resistance and were fortunate not to concede again.
When Pellegrino replaced Ward-Prowse with Shane Long in his pursuit of a reaction, Southampton’s supporters again chanted, “You don’t know what you’re doing”. They then booed their team at the final whistle when their defeat was confirmed.