Sunday, 2 March 2014

Reds sink Saints to send out title message

Liverpool sent out a message to the rest of the Premier League with an impressive 3-0 win away to Southampton on Saturday evening.

With both Manchester teams out of League action this weekend and Arsenal succumbing to a one-goal defeat away to Stoke, Liverpool’s fantastic 3-0 win at St Mary’s propelled the Merseysiders into second place in the table and put them indisputably in the title race with only ten games of what has been an amazing season to go.

Suarez scored the opener after quarter of an hour to reward a good start from the visitors, although the hosts responded by dominating the rest of the first period and probably should have entered the interval at least on level terms.

They didn’t though, and Raheem Sterling punished the Saints by finding the net with his first touch after coming on for the misfiring Coutinho. Gerrard converted a penalty in the 94th minute to round off a wonderful win perfectly.

Welsh midfielder Joe Allen was rewarded for a promising substitute’s performance versus Swansea last weekend with a place in the starting line-up, as Rodgers opted for a diamond formation in the middle of the park. Sterling dropped to the bench but made an immediate impact when he entered the fray in the second period.

Determined to end a run of bad results at St Marys, which had become a bit of a bogey ground for the Reds, Liverpool began on the front foot, a last gasp interception from Fonte the only thing stopping Suarez turning home Sturridge’s square pass on seven minutes.

After referee Lee Probert dismissed the Saints’ penalty pleas following Flanagan’s shoulder-barge on Lallana, Luis Suarez took advantage of a mixture of good fortune and poor defending to give Liverpool the lead on 16 minutes.

The ball fell perfectly for the Uruguayan in the box from a deflection off Fonte and the number seven clinically tucked home his first goal in six matches. It was Suarez’s 62nd goal in 100 League appearances, a record identical to the iconic Robbie Fowler’s.

Suarez's scoring drought is over
From that point on Southampton were dominant, creating several inviting goalscoring opportunities. Encouragingly, however, Liverpool’s defence, which has come under legitimate criticism recently, held firm, with the particularly impressive Mignolet making a few decent saves to keep the hosts out.

They were breathing a sigh of relief on the half hour mark, though, as Lallana’s close range shot hit the post when he really should have found the back of the net. The boyhood Everton fan then steered another effort wide and Schneiderlin scooped over, before Mignolet made a superb save to prevent Rodriguez equalising two minutes before the break.

The 24-year old Burnley-born striker fired goalwards but Mignolet reacted quickly to deny him the leveller, shifting his body weight impressively to make an instinctive save.

Although the Saints took off from where they had finished when the match resumed after the break, in hindsight their failure to equalise during a first half that they dominated proved decisive. Against the big teams you have to take your chances when they come, and Mauricio Pochettino’s men simply failed to do that yesterday teatime, to their detriment.

The pivotal point of the contest came when Raheem Sterling was introduced to the action just before the hour mark. Replacing the tired-looking Coutinho, Sterling immediately made a difference in front of England boss Roy Hodgson, who was watching on from the stands.

Linking up with Luis Suarez, who has assisted five of Sterling’s six League goals, the talented teenager tapped home Suarez’s square pass after the number seven had spun his helpless marker.

Sterling and Suarez are a lethal pair
The rest of the match was fairly comfortable for the Reds, who entertained the packed away end with some exciting football.

Sturridge shot across goal from an incredibly tight angle after rounding Boruc, Gerrard’s long-range drive was wall saved by the Polish keeper and Suarez cheekily tried to score from a corner kick before the skipper put the cherry on top of the cake in injury time.

Following Fonte’s foul on Suarez in the box, Gerrard stood up and comfortably converted the resulting spot kick to conclude the contest in the perfect way.

Gerrard celebrates converting another late penalty
Three points, three goals and a clean sheet against fairly tough opposition are all reasons for Kopites to be happy this weekend. Only four points behind table-topping Chelsea, second placed Liverpool have as good a chance as any of catching Mourinho’s men.

Now they’re gonna believe us- Liverpool can win the League.


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