Thursday, 21 August 2014

SAS Secure Winning Start

After ending pre-season successfully with a 4-0 win over Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool looked to start their 2014/15 Premier League campaign in the same vain as they hosted Southampton on Sunday.

Amid the pre-match talk about Liverpool's summer shopping spree at Southampton, Brendan Rodgers named two of the three signings from the South Coast club with Dejan Lovren in the starting eleven and Rickie Lambert on the substitutes bench with fellow summer signing Javier Manquillo also making his competitive debut for Liverpool.

One of Liverpool's key factors last season was their pacy attacking starts to games and this season looks to be no different as the hosts had the first chance inside seven minutes with Daniel Sturridge looking to test new Saints 'keeper Fraser Forster but could only shoot over from long range.

Fraser Forster did get his first test in the Premier League in the 20th minute when a well-worked move saw Raheem Sterling advance on goal before striking for goal only to be denied by a comfortable save by the former Celtic stopper.

His opposite number, Simon Mignolet had to be on guard just minutes later after a dangerous corner created chaos for the Liverpool defence but the Belgian collected the ball safely to quell the danger before starting a counter-attacking move that saw Liverpool open the scoring.

The ball came to Jordan Henderson just inside the Southampton half and the England midfielder swept forward a superb through pass that found the run of Raheem Sterling who advanced dashed into the area before side-footing past Fraser Forster to the joy of the Anfield crowd.

Southampton should have been level in the 35th minute when a superb curling free-kick from James Ward-Prowse looked on course to beat Simon Mignolet but the result was a stunning save from the Belgian who tipped the ball over the crossbar. 

Liverpool had Simon Mignolet to thank for preserving their lead just before half-time as a shot from Morgan Schneiderlin looked to be dipping to the net only for the Belgian to replicate his earlier save with a stunning tip over the bar. However, Liverpool had one final chance before the interval as Raheem Sterling drew a great save from Fraser Forster after a strong effort from the edge of the area.

Southampton started the second half well and got a reward for the efforts as a clever back-heel from debutant Dusan Tadic on the edge of the area saw Nathaniel Clyne slip through the Liverpool defence before hitting past Simon Mignolet to level the score. The visitors came close to going ahead just after the hour mark when Steven Davis was left unmarked in the Liverpool area before testing Simon Mignolet with an effort which the Belgian collected safely.

Both sides continued to search for the next goal with Southampton looking the most likely scorers but Liverpool regained the lead against the run of play as a dangerous cross from Jordan Henderson found he head of Raheem Sterling who headed to the back post with Daniel Sturridge latching on and tapping past Fraser Forster.

Liverpool looked to have survived the Southampton charge late on but came achingly close to letting the lead slip in the 88th minute as Morgan Schneiderlin struck a superb shot at goal, only to be denied from superb tipping save from Mignolet which cannoned off the cross bar and bounced to Shane Long who then missed the chance to salvage a draw on his debut.