Mohamed Salah ends an eight-game drought to help Liverpool move back to the top of the Premier League table with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Southampton.
The visitors were again short of their best for long spells at St Mary’s and fell behind after less than nine minute when Shane Long fired home from close range.
Liverpool levelled things up through Naby Keita‘s first goal for the club before half time, but it wasn’t until the 80th minute that they moved ahead through Mohamed Salah‘s first goal in his last nine games for the club.
Jordan Henderson then made sure of the points six minutes later as Liverpool were forced to grind out another win, lifting them two points clear of champions Manchester City, who are in FA Cup action this weekend.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was forced to bring Long into his side due to Danny Ings being ineligible against his parent club, but the striker repaid his manager’s faith with the opening goal after just nine minutes – only his third strike in 39 games.
Ryan Bertrand was allowed too much space to cross from the left and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg flicked it on to the unmarked Long, who had time to take a touch inside the box before tucking his finish into the bottom corner for his 50th Premier League goal.
It was no more than Southampton deserved having begun the match with far more intensity than Liverpool, who struggled to cope with the home side’s press and lacked the urgency befitting of their need for victory.
The Reds did carve out their first chance in the 16th minute as Sadio Mane‘s downward header from a Mohamed Salah cross was too close to Angus Gunn, and Keita could not hook the rebound home from close range.
Southampton continued to be the better team, though, and they squandered a glorious chance to double their advantage when they won possession inside the Liverpool half and fed a low ball into the box for Long, who completely missed his kick when he should have scored.
Liverpool were seeing plenty of the ball but offered few signs of breaking through a packed Southampton defence until the equaliser did arrive nine minutes before half time.
A succession of crosses went all the way through to the opposite flank before Trent Alexander-Arnold provided the telling moment of quality with a whipped delivery which Keita met and squeezed over the line via a slight deflection off Jan Bednarek.
Having scored with a rare sight of goal, Liverpool almost made it two in three minutes when Roberto Firmino stood a cross up into the middle for Mane, who again rose highest in the box but this time could not get enough on his header to test the keeper.
Firmino dragged a chance of his own well wide shortly before the break, but it remained all square at half time and Southampton again came out of the blocks quicker at the start of the second half.
A Keita penalty appeal was all Liverpool had to shout about before the hour mark, when Jurgen Klopp decided to bring Henderson and James Milner on in order to increase his side’s intensity and competitiveness.
More to follow.
How Liverpool could line up against Southampton