Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Reds Complete Saints Double

After securing a late win against Besiktas on Thursday, Liverpool returned to domestic duties with the trip to face Southampton, a tie which would see two of the league's most in-form clubs face off.

Liverpool made two changes from the Besiktas match with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge swapping places while former Saints defender Dejan Lovren replaced the injured Mamadou Sakho in a team featuring another fellow former Saint in Adam Lallana while Rickie Lambert was named on the bench.

A frantic start saw Southampton appeal for a penalty after only 22 seconds when a run into the box from Filip Djuricic saw him seemingly fouled by Emre Can but the referee thought otherwise as play continued. However, Southampton's mood worsened just five minutes later when a pass from Lazar Markovic found Philippe Coutinho whose stunning shot from long range sailed past Fraser Forster to open the scoring in superb style.

Both sides came into the game in good form so it was no surprise that despite the early opener, the play focused mainly in the midfield with Southampton's first chance to equalise coming just before the interval as Eljero Elia raced towards goal only to be denied on the edge of the area by the onrushing Simon Mignolet.

Southampton continued their attacking threat into the second half and had another good chance in the 50th minute with Graziano Pelle dragging a shot past the post, Alberto Moreno swept in a cross for Jordan Henderson just after the hour mark but the Reds captain was unable to create a chance to finish.

The presence of Moreno out wide soon proved effective for Liverpool as he swept in a dangerous cross in the 73rd minute which saw Matt Targett slip when attempting to clear and allowed Raheem Sterling to slot the ball past Forster for a 2-0 lead.

Southampton did have a chance late on to claim a consolation but Morgan Scheiderlin's header could only find the gloves of Mignolet who in securing a clean sheet broke a record of five away shutouts in a row for the first time since 1985 and ensured his side remained in the hunt for the top four.