An early Daniel Agger goal proved enough to see off Southampton as Liverpool emerged victorious at Anfield.
Liverpool earned a narrow victory over Southampton at Anfield thanks to a first-half goal from Daniel Agger.
The Reds were given a huge boost before kick-off with the return of Lucas Leiva to the team, the Brazilian starting for the first time in 3 months after suffering a hip injury, although it was almost the visitors who took the lead. Rickie Lambert, a boyhood Liverpool fan, picked up the ball with just three minutes on the clock and lashed a screamer at the goal, only to see it narrowly curve wide.
Despite the early warning, Liverpool soon gained control of the game. Glen Johnson should have hit the target after receiving a cut-back from Luis Suarez, but the Reds didn't have to wait long for more chances. Steven Gerrard first played in Jonjo Shelvey, who spurned the chance with a poor touch, before Luis Suarez embarked on a trademark mazy run only to see his shot saved at the near post by Paolo Gazzaniga.
Despite Brendan Rodgers' supposed philosophy, Liverpool have often looked most threatening when playing direct, and that almost proved the case again as Suarez collected a long goal-kick from Pepe Reina before attempting to round Gazzaniga, although Jose Fonte was alert to scramble it away. Liverpool were dominant, but could have been forgiven for thinking it would be another one of those days when Jonjo Shelvey hit a fierce drive from an angle which crashed off the post.
In the end though, Southampton's luck could not last the half. Shortly before the half-time whistle, Liverpool hit the woodwork once more through a Suarez free-kick, but Glen Johnson pumped the ball back into the area for Daniel Agger to head the home side in front. Their lead was almost cancelled out immediately in outrageous fashion, as Rickie Lambert shot from fully 45 yards after seeing Pepe Reina ill-positioned, but the Spaniard managed to get back to claw it away to preserve Liverpool's 1-0 lead going into half time.
The second half proved to be a nervier affair, with Jason Puncheon almost punishing the hosts for not building up a more convincing lead, only for Pepe Reina to make a smart save after the winger's darting run. Liverpool, too, had their chances - Jose Enrique with the best, but showing why he plays in the back four by dragging a poor shot wide when through on goal.
In the end, Agger's early goal proved to be enough, and it would be silly to claim that Liverpool didn't deserve the victory. Nonetheless, despite the relief of the victory, Brendan Rodgers will already be painfully aware that their inability to build a more commanding lead will cost them against better sides - as it already has done many times this season. A good result for the home side, but little sign of progress. Southampton's mini-revival also appears to be off after they offered very little, but the nature of the game will allow them to write it off as a bad day at the office. Yet too many more performances like this and they will begin to look destined for the Championship.