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    Liverpool 1-1 Southampton Match Report


    Jurgen Klopp's wait for his first win as Liverpool manager continues after his side were left frustrated by a resolute Southampton team that looked to be heading for defeat when Christian Benteke powered home a spectacular header with only 13 minutes remaining. It would have been harsh on the visitors, who were rarely threatened in the final third throughout the 90 minutes but Sadio Mane spoiled the German manager's afternoon by scrambling home a deserved equalizer with four minutes remaining.

    Further late drama ensued when Mane incurred two yellow cards in stoppage time as he cynically halted two Liverpool attacks with the home side chasing the winner that they never really looked like achieving. It was another frustrating 90 minutes for the Liverpool fans, who watched their side dominate possession without finding the cutting edge to penetrate a well-drilled Southampton rearguard besides the standout moment of the game that Benteke provided.

    Liverpool began the match brightly, with Nathaniel Clyne setting up an excellent chance for Philippe Coutinho after four minutes, only for Cedric Soares to block the Brazilian's effort from just inside the penalty area. Emre Can then nearly turned in James Milner's subsequent near-post corner, but his effort could only find the side netting. It was a fast start for Liverpool, but Coutinho's effort proved to be one of the few occasions where the home side threatened to get in-behind the Southampton back four.



    The visitors slowly worked their way into the match despite creating very few clear-cut opportunities in the first-half. Their best chance in the first 30 minutes came when Steven Davis found himself in space on the penalty spot after Ryan Bertrand's cross was missed by Mamadou Sakho, but his weak effort was comfortably gathered by Simon Mignolet.

    Liverpool were finding it hard to break down a well-organised Southampton defence, with Milner trying his best to inject some pace into Liverpool's attacking play. The England midfielder played a one-two with Adam Lallana that took three Southampton players out of the game, but his low effort from 20 yards was a yard wide of Maarten Stekelenburg's right-hand post.

    Southampton's best chance of the half fell to Virgil van Dijk after 38 minutes, who found himself unmarked in the penalty area when attacking Davis' free-kick. The Liverpool back-four failed to pick up three Southampton players, allowing van Dijk an effort on goal from eight yards, but the Dutch international's headed effort, into the ground, was clawed away by an in-form Liverpool goalkeeper.



    Dimock Origi, who was ineffective for Liverpool in the first-half, was brought off at half-time and replaced by Christian Benteke, with the former Aston Villa centre-forward adding power and strength in the final third that his countryman was unable to provide. He missed the first chance his side created in the second half when he bundled an effort towards goal from eight yards, which deflected off Dusan Tadic and forced Steven Davis to clear off the line.

    Despite being dominated in terms of possession, Southampton were still creating chances of their own, most notably through Mane, who was a threat to the Liverpool back four throughout the match. Soares pick-pocketed Coutinho inside his own half and played a defence-splitting pass that put the Senegalese winger through on goal, but Alberto Moreno timed a last-ditch tackle to perfection. From the resulting corner, Mane found himself unmarked and blazed over the bar from two yards, but his blushes were spared by the sight on an offside flag.

    With the match heading for a stalemate with only 13 minutes remaining, Benteke provided the game's stand-out moment which looked to have given his manager the win that he so desperately craved. The Belgian powered home a classic centre-forwards' header from 12 yards from Milner's right-wing cross. All the power on the ball was generated by Benteke, who rose above Jose Fonte to unleash a bullet header that left Mignolet clutching at thin air. Whilst it was a lead that the home side scarcely deserved, it was a goal that was worthy of winning any match.



    Liverpool must have believed that all the hard work they had invested into a frustrating game had finally paid off but their defence were unable to see the match out. They were dealt a warning sign five minutes after Benteke's goal when Mane brought down Cedric's lofted pass, turned past Skrtel and unleashed an effort from a tight angle that went over Mignolet's crossbar.

    Mane wasn't to be denied four minutes later, however, when he bundled home from on the goal-line to score his fifth goal in as many games for the club. Both Fonte and Gaston Ramirez had headed on James Ward Prowse's free-kick with Mignolet only able to palm the ball against the incoming Senegalese winger, who bundled the ball into the back of the net.

    That wasn't the end of the afternoon's drama, however, as the goalscorer picked up two yellow cards in stoppage time which will now force him to miss Wednesday's Capital One Cup tie against Aston Villa. The first was given for a trip on Roberto Firmino inside his own half that prevented the Brazilian from starting a Liverpool attack. He then made a reckless lunge on Moreno after the Spanish full-back had already released the ball, giving referee Andre Marriner no alternative but to reach for his pocket.



    It was a disappointing afternoon for Liverpool, who worked tirelessly throughout the match and despite a lack of quality in key areas of the pitch, it looked like a victory for hard work and persistence was on the cards. The wait for Klopp's first victory will continue as his side rise to ninth position ahead of Saturday's trip to out-of-form Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Before that, they will have to negotiate a Capital One Cup encounter against Bournemouth, also at Anfield.

    Klopp seems to have made his side difficult to beat, having implemented the gegenpressing formula that worked so well for his Borussia Dortmund side but without the end product that was so often provided by the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze. The high-pressing style restricted Southampton to very few-counter attacks, allowing Liverpool to dominate possession, albeit most of it was in front of the Southampton back four and resulted in only two efforts on target.

    One of the many conclusions to come out of this match will be that the problems at Liverpool are unlikely to be solved by the quick fix that many people were hoping to see when Klopp was first appointed. It may take further additions in the January transfer window as well as the likes of Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge to return from injury before the club are able to consistently turn matches such as this from draws into victories.



    For Southampton, it was a well-deserved draw and provides further evidence that last season's excellent form can be replicated despite losing the likes of Nathaniel Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin. They defended excellently for 90 minutes and it took one of the best headed goals of the season to score past a well-organised side that was very difficult to break down.

    Ronald Koeman's men showed excellent character to recover from such a late goal and were always dangerous with the pace of Mane, who provided a threat to the Liverpool back-four throughout the match. Next up for Southampton is a home tie against managerless Aston Villa in the Capital One Cup before they entertain Bournemouth in the South Coast derby on Sunday.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 1-1 Southampton Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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