Liverpool slump continues

 

Southampton 2 Liverpool 0

Liverpool squandered a chance to return to the summit of the Premiership tonight after losing 2-0 away to Southampton.

A silly penalty and amazing own goal condemned Liverpool to the shock defeat at St Mary's.

Saints' opener arrived in the 61st minute when James Beattie swept home his 11th goal of the season from the penalty spot after Sami Hyypia clumsily upended Matt Oakley.

And the home faithful were sent into ecstasy 10 minutes later when Reds substitute John Arne Riise, under no pressure, incredibly headed Marian Pahars' cross over his goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and into his own net with his first touch of the ball.

The Merseysiders' on-loan forward Nicolas Anelka was expertly marshalled throughout by Saints defender Paul Williams, a free transfer signing from Coventry.

And home goalkeeper Paul Jones rescued Southampton - who have now won five of their last seven games - on the only occasion Williams allowed Anelka to escape and crack a 15-yard half-volley goalwards in the 36th minute.

Liverpool's stand-in boss Phil Thompson left Michael Owen out of his squad tonight to ensure the England striker is fully-fit for the vital showdown at fellow title-chasers Arsenal on Sunday.

Owen's minor ankle problem allowed Anelka the opportunity to start alongside Jari Litmanen.

For Gordon Strachan's side, Norwegian Claus Lundekvam returned after a facial injury to line up in central defence with Williams.

PA