2017/2018 English Premier League
  • Roberto Firmino (6')
  • Mohamed Salah (42')

Liverpool cruise to win at Southampton to return to third place

Liverpool moved back above Tottenham and into third place in the Premier League table as two first-half goals gave them a routine 2-0 victory at struggling Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's side led after only six minutes as Southampton's defence cracked and Roberto Firmino swept home after Mohamed Salah had played the ball across following a mistake by Wesley Hoedt, who failed to cut out a long pass.

One-time Southampton player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain tried his luck moments later, with a deflected strike being stopped and held by Alex McCarthy.

Newcastle's win over Manchester United earlier on Sunday afternoon had sent the Saints back into the relegation zone, and the home side struggled to muster much response to their early setback.

Ryan Bertrand tried to change that, making a good run down the left but failing to find a colleague with his cross.

But they could have equalised when a deep cross fell to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who got the better of Andrew Robertson but saw his shot blocked by keeper Loris Karius, who was swiftly off his line.

Sadio Mane, another ex-Southampton player, drilled wide from outside the area as the game approached the half-hour, but the home side threatened again when James Ward-Prowse swung in a cross but Guido Carrillo sent his header straight at Karius.

Karius then tipped over a Ward-Prowse header as the Saints found some momentum, and the same player had another chance after Bertrand had crossed with five minutes of the opening half remaining.

The home side were soon made to pay for those missed opportunities as Salah played a lovely one-two with Firmino, who backheeled the ball into his path, and stroked home his 22nd league goal of an outstanding season.

Southampton were in desperate need of an early boost as the second half began but got the opposite as Mario Lemina appeared unwell and after returning to the action his block fell to Salah, who could only blast over.

It was a sleepy start to the second period, with Liverpool under no threat as the Saints showed no sign of being able to find a route back into proceedings.

The home side had to substitute Lemina after 58 minutes, bringing on Sofiane Boufal, and Jurgen Klopp made a change of his own when he took off Oxlade-Chamberlain and replaced him with James Milner.

Georginio Wijnaldum fired over as Liverpool looked for a third, and then Firmino delayed his cross too long after breaking down the left with options to choose from in the middle.

And with the match entering its final 15 minutes, Mane had another chance to strike from outside the box but hammered wildly over from distance.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp brought on another ex-Southampton man, Adam Lallana, for Firmino, as the visitors ran down the clock with ease, Lallana firing wide when he should have scored, to leave the Saints in the bottom three.

English Premier League Standings

1 Liverpool 31 +52 76
2 Manchester City 30 +58 74
3 Tottenham Hotspur 30 +25 61
4 Arsenal 30 +24 60
5 Manchester United 30 +18 58
6 Chelsea 30 +17 57
7 Wolverhampton Wanderers 30 +2 44
8 Watford 30 -2 43
9 West Ham United 31 -5 42
10 Leicester City 31 -3 41
11 Everton 31 +1 40
12 AFC Bournemouth 31 -13 38
13 Newcastle United 31 -9 35
14 Crystal Palace 30 -5 33
15 Brighton & Hove Albion 29 -10 33
16 Southampton 30 -16 30
17 Burnley 31 -24 30
18 Cardiff City 30 -30 28
19 Fulham 31 -41 17
20 Huddersfield Town 31 -39 14