Liverpool started life in the post-Luis Suarez era with a slender win vs. Southampton on Sunday. Despite the sunny skies above Merseyside it looked like Southampton had brought the darkness as they took Liverpool to the brink on opening day.
Liverpool left it late to seal the win today as Sterling proved the crucial player in securing he win for the Reds with a goal and an assist. Sturridge put Liverpool back in front late in after Nathanial Clyne equalised for Southampton.
The game began with Liverpool typically in possession of the ball and on the front foot. Not so typically though, their play soon turned flat. The imposing Victor Wanyama proved key in cutting out supply to Coutinho throughout.
Nevertheless Liverpool took the lead after 26 minutes through Raheem Sterling. Jordan Henderson won a 50/50 tackle in his own half and quickly played a 50 yard ball to Sterling to split the Saints defence and stroke the ball passed Forster. With a first half goal it seemed that a glut of Liverpool goals would follow.
Quickly Liverpool ran at the Saints defence looking for a second. The pressure didn’t last though and Southampton soon got on top of the game in a somewhat frustrating fashion for the Reds. Having ended the first half at 1-0 Liverpool fans would have been happy to get in after 45 minutes leading in a scrappy game.
Following half-time Southampton remained on top and continually put pressure on Liverpool’s poor midfield duo of Lucas and Gerrard. After 11 minutes of play in the second half Southampton would find the equaliser they duly deserved. Clyne found himself costless in the box and lashed home high into the net from 12 yards.
Southampton’s chances wouldn’t end there either. One chance saw Davis unmarked in the box where he met a cross and struck towards Mignolet’s goal, only for the Belgian to make a fine save.
Brendan soon rung the changes, with Allen for Lucas and later Lambert for Coutinho. A spell of fine Liverpool pressure soon ended in success for the Reds as Sterling was able to play a headed pass to Sturridge who then scored from close range.
The Liverpool fans would be made to sweat though, as Shane Long struck a shot at Mignolet’s goal from close range late in the second half. The shot was saved by Mignolet who pushed the ball toward the crossbar. In the end the Reds held out for a nervy but ultimately very important three points on opening day.
Somewhat inevitably a Mignolet save proved crucial in an opening day win for the Reds. Rodgers though, has lots t ponder with Manchester City on the horizon.