Reds Fight Off Saints To Close In On 4th
Liverpool somehow managed to collect a 2-0 victory at St Marys on Sunday afternoon despite having to soak up immense pressure from the home side. An early piece of magic from Philippe Coutinho put the Reds into the lead and Raheem Sterling was allowed to find a second goal at 73 minutes.
It was a rather strange line up chosen by Brendan Rodgers as Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Mario Balotelli were all sat on the bench. Replacing the injured Mamadou Sakho in defence was Dejan Lovren and it was safe to say most (not all) fans were questioning that line up, including myself.
It's no secret I hate playing without a striker but I was also disappointed with the missing Moreno and the fact that Lovren had gained a start. However, whilst our performance wasn't necessarily tip top, the team pulled off another big win and I have to give credit for that.
It took the Reds just three minutes to get off the mark when Philippe Coutinho created some space and had a pop at goal from range. His resulting shot swooped its way into the back of the net leaving goalkeeper Forster dumbstruck. It was a sublime strike and it was brilliant to see Liverpool score an early goal.
Southampton though, if they weren't already geared up enough booing the likes of Lallana and Lovren had definitely used this early goal as fuel for their performance. The decibels rose in St Marys as Ronald Koeman's side began their relentless run of pressure on the Liverpool defence.
Two early penalty appeals for Southampton almost gave them an opportunity to level things up. For the first challenge I think the Saints would have been very lucky to have been given that, however the second involving Joe Allen, I thought that was a penalty. Who knows how the game would have panned out if they were awarded that so the Reds were extremely lucky to watch the referee completely ignore the incident.
Another penalty shout this time involving Raheem Sterling could have gone either way for me so I wasn't too disgruntled to watch Kevin Friend turn down this appeal.
Another moment of luck for Liverpool came when Simon Mignolet was forced to race to the edge of his box to prevent an easy break for Southampton. An attempted through ball hit off Mignolet's chest as he appeared to be right on the line of his box and then came off his hands. It was a very close call for me but once again, luck appeared to be on Liverpool's side.
Add to this the continuing pressure from Southampton, ok, they didn't have that many shots on target but it felt like it would only be a matter of time before the home side converted.
Liverpool though stuck at it and fought hard. Into the second half and at 60 minutes Brendan Rodgers decided to bring Daniel Sturridge on, he replaced Adam Lallana who must have been pleased to escape the animosity from his former fans.
Ten minutes after the substitution the Reds finally found another goal giving themselves some breathing space. A poor clearance from Southampton allowed the ball to splay to a pouncing Raheem Sterling who scored Liverpool's second with a simple finish.
From there on in it was just a matter of maintaining the win for Liverpool and after fighting so hard to keep a clean sheet throughout the game they weren't going to give it up in the final 15 minutes.
It was a massive, massive win for Liverpool who are now in 6th place and just two points off Manchester United in 4th place. A real team performance and a victory when in all honesty we weren't playing at our absolute best.
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
@_TheLiverBird worried about this particular game for months. Got lucky at points but worked hard. Mignolet looking better and better.
— Robert Durnall II (@Bobbyisgod) February 22, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC We ground out a win without playing particularly well against a top 4 rival - the type of performance neded to finish in top 4
— rob pickard (@wakeyrob71) February 23, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC biggest win of the season for me and a real demonstration of the steel that this team has now in recent months.Next up for Liverpool is Beskitas on Thursday evening.
— Tim Bolton (@timbolton1) February 23, 2015
The kind folk over at www.beautifulgame.co.uk (Twitter: @beautifulgamewa) have allowed me to run a competition allowing you to win one of their fantastic wall stickers.
To take part in the competition simply tweet me with the hashtag "#lfcstickers" and I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on Friday 27th February after the Besiktas match report.
You can choose one sticker design of your choice, here is a range of the Liverpool designs available