Southampton vs. Liverpool: Final score 3-1, the Saints go marching to a win

Mike Hewitt

Liverpool's bid to win their fourth straight league match came up short thanks to an all-around excellent performance from Southampton.

Southampton picked up three huge points off Liverpool that should go a long way toward keeping them out of the relegation fight as the season winds down.

Southampton got the match off to a roaring start, at least form their perspective, jumping out to an early 1-0 in the 6th minute. Gaston Ramirez started the attack with a lofted ball across the Liverpool area and over defender to Jay Rodriguez at the near post. Rodriguez went up and headed the ball down to the foot of Morgan Schneiderlin, who redirected the ball to the far post and into the net.

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The Saints kept pouring on the pressure and had Liverpool on the heels well into the first half. Rodriguez forced a save from Brad Jones in the 18th minute. Three minutes later Rodriguez missed an open shot, sending the ball over the cross bar and Adam Lallana forced another good save from Jones from short range after the restart.

Liverpool's two best chances of the first 25 minutes were both from Daniel Sturridge but they were both also offside.

In the 33rd minute, Martin Skrtel brought down Rickie Lambert roughly 30 yards from goal, giving Southampton a set piece opportunity. Lambert's free kick hit off a Liverpool player in the wall and curled right as Jones took his first step left. The Liverpool keeper couldn't reover and the ball found the ball of the net, giving the Saints a 2-0 lead.

Liverpool had a great chance in the 40th minute when Philippe Coutinho broke in behind the Saints defense, one-on-one with Artur Boruc. The keeper made a wonderful slide tackle before Coutinho could get off a shot.

Coutinho was not to be denied in first-half stoppage time, though, scoring from short range after Sturridge's initial shot was blocked in the Saints area and rebounded out to the Brazilian, who made it 2-1 at half-time.

After a fairly exciting and open first half, the second half was much more pedestrian thanks in large part to Southampton defending their lead. That's not to say the Saints weren't attacking but they were much less willing to risk opening themselves to be beaten by Liverpool on the break.

Southampton nearly put the match away in the 77th minute when Schneiderlin found Lallana in the Liverpool area, having snuck behind his defender. Jones reacted perfectly though and closed down on Lallana, blocking his shot attempt so it could be cleared away from danger.

Three minutes later, Rodriguez made sure that the Saints would earn three points, beating Jones from short range to put the Saints up, 3-1, and earn them full points on the day.

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