A second half fightback earned Liverpool another crucial win in the Premier League title race as they came from behind to beat Southampton 3-1 at Saint Mary’s Stadium.
The Saints came out with tremendous purpose and intensity and took the lead when a series of lax defending from Liverpool saw the ball drop to Shane Long in the box to calmly slot past Alisson.
Long should have had a second soon after Trent Alexander-Arnold’s giveaway was pounced upon by the hosts, but the Irishman allowed Nathan Redmond’s low cross to flash past him as Virgil van Dijk very nearly turned the ball into his own net.
Liverpool were rattled and being totally dominated, but they found the crucial equaliser before half time when Alexander-Arnold picked out Naby Keita in the box to head home his first Liverpool goal.
Jurgen Klopp needed to spark a response from his men in the second half, and it was the addition of Jordan Henderson and James Milner into the game that got them ticking.
Tails were up and it began to be a case of when they would score rather than if, and it was with 10 minutes to play when Liverpool cleared a corner allowing Mohamed Salah to run a full half of the pitch and some before finishing expertly into the bottom left corner.
Henderson capped a game changing off the bench cameo with a captain’s goal six minutes later, streaming into the box to smash home a Roberto Firmino cut back to wrap up the three points.
The Reds never make it easy
By claiming the win here, Liverpool have now accrued 16 points from losing positions in the Premier League, more than any other team. Perhaps this is a useless stat, but casting minds back to Klopp’s first season in charge, Liverpool lost 3-2 at Saint Mary’s after coughing up a 2-0 lead.
This shows the growth that the side have made, from losing points when they ought to be won to stealing them in the face of adversity.
Liverpool sides down the years have never done it easy, think Istanbul 2005, Borussia Dortmund in 2016, and the likes of Crystal Palace, Burnley, Tottenham and now Southampton this season.
Klopp’s men, quite simply, were very poor in the first half. They were rattled and nervy, sloppy on the ball and slack off it as Southampton came out and seized the game.
Thankfully for Klopp and for their fans, the players came out a much more determined and imposing unit in the second half, and after probing the Southampton defence for half an hour, the goals came in what could go down as one of their most important wins of the season.
Future is bright for the Saints
It is quite astonishing that, given the team and the manager in place, Southampton still find themselves two ladder places and five points above the relegation zone.
Granted they have lost a host of talent including van Dijk, Sadio Mane, Luke Shaw and Victor Wanyama over the years, but the squad that is there now is more than good enough to be better than where they currently find themselves.
Ryan Bertrand and James Ward-Prowse are England internationals, Long has scored in excess of 50 Premier League goals and Pierre Emile Hojbjerg and Oriol Romeu have both won silverware with Bayern Munich and Chelsea respectively.
Adding to this core the impressive youth of Yan Valery, Josh Sims and growing stars Jan Bednarek and Redmond, the Saints have composed an impressive squad after the selling spree over the past few years.
In Hasenhuttl they have an experienced and very intelligent manager who knows very well the German style of play; effervescent pressing and counter-attacking play matched with swift and intelligent passing sequences.
Southampton should really be safe from relegation this season barring a travesty to end the campaign, and with a first summer transfer window and full pre-season with the club, Hassenhuttl should be leading the Saints up the table in seasons to come.
Henderson and Milner prove their worth
When Klopp names his trusty midfield trio of Georginio Wijnaldum, Milner and Henderson against Tottenham, fans were crying out for Fabinho to be in the side and have wanted to see Keita for some time.
Supporters’ prayers were answered an hour before kick off at Saint Mary’s when both Fabinho and Keita were named in the starting XI, but wishes for a win were only granted after the introduction of the captain and vice-captain.
It was Wijnaldum who was actually pulled out of the midfield to make way for Henderson, and Milner replaced the disappointing Alexander-Arnold at right-back, with the both of them making an immediate impact.
Straight away, Henderson was buzzing around the midfield, harrying opposition players, hurriedly retrieving balls for throw-ins and getting Liverpool going.
Milner provided the quality and calmness on the ball at the back that Alexander-Arnold had struggled to produce earlier.
Post-match, Henderson spoke of conversations with Klopp regarding his ability to move up the pitch and affect games in attacking positions, proven in his powerful run to score the clinching goal.
Teams can spend extortionate amounts of money on foreign players to stack their teams, but seasoned Englishmen with leadership and experience will always be of huge value to a Premier League side, especially one that needs cool heads in a title race.