Southampton 1 Liverpool 2
Liverpool made light of their exhaustive midweek jaunt to Turkey to post a club-record 11th straight Premier League win with a 2-1 success at Southampton.
Goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino kept up their impressive domestic record as they have won every game going back to the Merseyside derby on March 3rd and are unbeaten in 19 overall.
This win must be as pleasing as any for Jürgen Klopp given his side did not land back in this country until 4am on Thursday morning following their penalty shootout Super Cup win over Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday night.
Southampton caused them a host of problems, as fatigue seemed to be an issue, but Mane’s brilliant goal gave them a half-time lead and the second half was an incisive attacking display which should have yielded more than Firmino’s effort.
The fact there were not further goals meant that in the end Liverpool were hanging on in the final 10 minutes after Danny Ings scored against his former club to reduce the deficit.
The Saints, who were beaten on the opening day at Burnley, will be able to take away plenty of positives, even if they are left with a sense of what if after Ings missed a golden chance to equalise.
They must have been rubbing their hands when they saw Liverpool’s schedule and build-up to the game, which was dominated by an injury worry for Reds goalkeeper Adrian.
The Spaniard hurt his ankle when a pitch invader slid into him during the post-match celebrations in Turkey and Liverpool were preparing to play Andy Lonergan, a 35-year-old journeyman who last played for Rochdale in March.
Luckily Adrian, who had been the hero of Istanbul, was declared fit and produced some more heroics in the 20th minute to stop Southampton taking the lead.
The Saints, who have inflicted three defeats on Klopp during his time at Anfield, out Liverpool-ed Liverpool with a vigorous press, which unsettled the back line and saw them earn a string of corners.
And it was from one of them that Maya Yoshida should have opened the scoring, but his header from inside the six-yard went straight to Adrian, who instinctively put a hand up to make a fine save.
Southampton continued to better their visitors and fashioned another fine chance seven minutes before the break as Che Adams found space in between the two centre backs, but put his free header from Oriol Romeu's cross over the crossbar.
There was a sense those misses might be costly and so it proved in first-half stoppage time as some neat passing ended up with Mane inside the area and he created space for himself and then curled a delightful effort into the top corner.
Klopp’s men had been lucky to be in front at half-time, but they should have been home and hosed by the hour mark as they found their attacking groove early in the second half and missed some big chances.
First James Milner rolled an effort just wide, before an off-boil Mohamed Salah broke the offside trap and was denied by the feet of Angus Dunn.
Firmino was the guiltiest party, though, when he missed from close range from another Mane centre.
The Brazilian made up for that miss in the 71st minute as Liverpool appeared to kill the game when he fired into the bottom corner after cutting across the edge of the area.
Southampton continued their endeavour and that hard work saw them earn a lifeline in the 83rd minute.
Ings chased down a pass back and Adrian’s high stock fell when he dallied on the ball, allowing the Southampton striker to close down his clearance and send it in to the back of the net.
Ings should have delivered the ultimate penalty to his former side three minutes later but he could not make a proper connection from six yards out and his shot went painfully wide as the Reds held on.