Mane and Thiago on target as Reds beat Southampton

Liverpool closed the gap on the Premier League top four with a 2-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday night.

Sadio Mane headed the Reds into the lead on 31 minutes after Mohamed Salah had stood up a cross towards the back post.

Thiago Alcantara struck his first goal for the club as the game entered added time when he swept in from just outside of the area to make certain of the outcome.

The result moves Jürgen Klopp’s side to within six points of fourth-placed Leicester City, with a game in hand.

Pos.PWDLGFGAGDPts
4Leicester City351961063432063
5West Ham United351771155451058
6Liverpool34169957391857
7Tottenham Hotspur351681161412056
8Everton34167114642455

Team news…

Liverpool made two changes from their last outing against Newcastle United on April 24 as Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams came into defence.

Ozan Kabak, James Milner, Naby Keita and Ben Davies missed out due to minor injury concerns.

First half…

Liverpool kicked off knowing victory would be crucial in maintaining their push for a top-four finish; however, it was Southampton who enjoyed the majority of the ball in the opening exchanges.

Nevertheless, with 10 minutes gone, Trent Alexander-Arnold’s arched pass over the top was controlled by the chest of Mane, who allowed the ball to drop before drilling just over from the edge of the area.

Southampton then required Fraser Forster to block a low Salah shot with his boot after the hosts had worked an opening inside the box, before Phillips headed narrowly wide from a corner.

Then, on 25 minutes, the visiting custodian was called into action again when Diogo Jota weaved his way through three defenders before drilling goalwards. Forster was able to repel, just as he did with a Salah effort moments after.

The ‘keeper was helpless when Georginio Wijnaldum crashed a header goalwards at a corner, but the ball cannoned against the top of the crossbar and went behind.

On the half-hour mark, it was Southampton’s turn to threaten. Nathan Tella escaped into space down the right and crossed for Che Adams. However, he was denied by a block from Alisson Becker before the Brazilian caught Stuart Armstrong’s follow-up.

And within a minute, Liverpool had broken the deadlock. Salah collected possession on the corner of the box and lofted a cross towards the back post, where Mane was on hand to head in.

The home side went close to furthering their lead, but Salah was left frustrated in his attempts to round Forster, seeing his eventful shot blocked by Jannik Vestergaard, while Thiago’s crisply struck volley cannoned into a crowd of white shirts.

With half-time looming, Tella headed straight at Alisson from a Nathan Redmond centre as Southampton looked for a leveller before the interval.

Second half…

Liverpool began assertively after the restart, with Jota forcing Forster into an early save at his near post before Phillips headed wide when unmarked from a corner.

Jan Bednarek blocked from Salah in the area, while Alisson was required to challenge substitute Michael Obafemi for the ball inside the box at the other end.

The Saints forward then teed up Ibrahima Diallo for a half-volley on the edge of the box, which Alisson was required to push over the bar.

The goalkeeper was almost punished for a wayward pass with 13 minutes remaining, but Adams shot straight at him after intercepting.

Jota lost his footing from a Salah cutback and scooped wide as the game entered its final stages, and a Mane strike was then chalked off for offside.

But Thiago netted his first goal for the club as the game entered stoppage time to alleviate any late tension and secure maximum points for Liverpool, who close the gap on the top four.