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    Southampton 0-0 Liverpool Match Report

    Liverpool were denied the chance to maintain their lead at the top of the Premier League table despite putting in a dominant performance against a stubborn Southampton team.

    After a first-half that was low on quality and clear-cut chances, Jurgen Klopp's side raised their game after the break but were denied by a combination of wasteful finishing and a strong defensive rearguard.

    Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne wasted the visitors' best chances, while Charlie Austin came close to giving Southampton the most unlikely of leads in a second-half which was much more conducive to Liverpool's free-flowing attacking play.

    The result allowed Liverpool to narrowly extend their lead of the Premier League for 24 hours but it was Chelsea who ended the weekend on top after a 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough, their sixth consecutive victory in the league.

    It always looked like being a much tougher assignment for Jurgen Klopp's side than what they have faced in recent weeks and the absence of Adam Lallana with a groin injury did little to maintain the momentum they had built up before the international break.

    The inclusion of Georginio Wijnaldum, who was chosen ahead of Daniel Sturridge, enabled the visitors to have more muscle in the centre of midfield but it gave them less attacking options in the final third of the pitch.

    The Saints, who were boosted by the return of Cedric Soares after seven games out with a foot injury, denied Liverpool the time and space to work their openings in an even first-half but created few chances themselves.

    Their best opportunity fell to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg after 14 minutes but the Danish international was unable to hit the target from 25 yards when he was well-positioned for a left-footed strike.

    The likes of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino were unable to find the pockets of space they have exploited with such regularity this season but The Reds did create two decent chances prior to half-time through Sadio Mane.

    Former Southampton winger Mane found himself on the end of a slick move from the visitors but his strike from 20 yards was expertly saved by Fraser Forster as it headed for the far corner.

    Georginio Wijnaldum's clever through-ball then allowed Mane to accelerate beyond the last line of the Southampton defence but he was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Virgil van Dijk as he prepared to get a strike away.

    The second-half was a much more open affair with the visitors creating the clear-cut chances that had been elusive prior to the break but they always remained susceptible to the Southampton sucker punch.

    The Reds were perhaps a little unfortunate not to have been awarded a spot-kick two minutes after the restart when Firmino was tugged to the ground by van Dijk outside the box before the contact continued inside the penalty area.

    They should have taken the lead two minutes later, however, when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's misplaced pass allowed Firmino to play Coutinho through on goal but the Brazilian was denied by Jose Fonte's last-gasp block.

    For all Liverpool's possession and greater chances, it was the home side who should have taken the lead as the hour-mark approached when Charlie Austin attacked Cedric Soares' pinpoint cross but somehow managed to head wide from six yards.

    The visitors turned up the pace in the final 30 minutes in their relentless pursuit of a fourth-consecutive league victory, with Emre Can having a clear sight of goal but he dragged his left-footed effort three yards wide.

    Perhaps Liverpool's best chance of the game arrived midway through the half when Firmino was played in on goal by Coutinho's clever pass but the former Hoffenheim forward drilled harmlessly wide with the outside of his right-foot.

    Klopp turned up the heat on Southampton further with the introduction of Daniel Sturridge and the England international's first involvement in the game was to deliver a inch-perfect cross which Clyne headed wide when he looked certain to score.

    Their final chance of the game arrived two minutes later when Firmino tried another effort, this time from just inside the penalty area, but Forster was on hand to make a comfortable save to push the ball away for a corner.

    While it will feel like two points dropped rather than one point gained for the 18-time champions, the performance will be particularly pleasing for Jurgen Klopp especially as his side racked so many air miles during the international break.

    The Reds were never at their free-flowing best during a largely uneventful first-half but created enough chances after the break to win several matches and retain their lead at the top of the table.

    They have now gone 13 games in all competitions since they last tasted defeat and head into Saturday's home game with Sunderland trailing leaders Chelsea by a point but remain ahead of Manchester City in the table courtesy of having scored more goals.

    Southampton will be the happier of the two teams to come away from St. Mary's with a point and the result also ends a run of two successive league defeats for Claude Puel's 11th-place side.

    The Saints return to action on Thursday night when they travel to Sparta Prague in the Europa League before they resume acquaintances with former manager Ronald Koeman whose Everton side travel to St. Mary's on Sunday.
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    Item Reviewed: Southampton 0-0 Liverpool Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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