We Bottled It

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High off knocking Manchester United out of the Europa League, Liverpool returned to Premier League football, travelling to Southampton in their final game before the international break,

Jurgen Klopp’s men lead through another stunning goal by Philippe Coutinho, before Daniel Sturridge put his name on the score sheet to double the lead.

But half-time substitute Sadio Mane turned the game around scoring twice, along with Pelle to make it 3-2 to the Saints.

The Reds were without a few key players as Roberto Firmino picked up a hamstring injury, Jordan Henderson was still recovering from his illness so only made the bench, James Milner was suspended and Alberto Moreno was still injured.

As a result, Divock Origi, Joe Allen and Jon Flanagan were handed starts with the Englishman also being awarded the captains armband, just two days after signing a new contract.

It was almost a disastrous start for the Reds when Shane Long was through on goal but was brought down recklessly from ex-Saints man, Dejan Lovren. It looked a clear penalty and could have possibly been a red card as well, but the referee saw nothing in it which stunned the stadium.

After the early let off, it was Klopp’s men who struck first through the in-form Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian picked up the around 25 yards out and hit the ball perfectly across goal to find the bottom right corner to beat a helpless Fraser Forster.

It was another goal and another stunner by the Brazilian who has been in incredible form in recent games.

That goal was the catalyst for an oncoming onslaught as just minutes later it was 2-0 thanks to Daniel Sturridge. Divock Origi surged through the Southampton defence to then lay the ball to the Englishman who took his time before placing the ball into the bottom left corner to double the lead.

The Reds should’ve then killed the game off with Joe Allen. A brilliant passing counter attack ended with the Welshman being played in one-on-one but Forster made a brilliant save to keep the Saints in the game.

Allen did have the ball in the back of the net not so long after the ball fell him to him from a corner and his snap shot went in but Mamadou Sakho was deemed to be interfering with play and the goal was ruled out for offside.

It could have been four or five goals for Liverpool at the break, but two goals put the Reds in firm control of the game.

Dejan Lovren’s nervy game came to an end at half-time after he was replaced by Martin Skrtel who was returning from injury.

It was a disastrous start for the Slovakian as he received a yellow card and gave away a penalty after pulling down Graziano Pelle.

Sadio Mane stepped up and looked for the bottom left corner but Simon Mignolet matched him and made a great save to keep the Reds two goals up.

However, Mane redeemed himself not long after to make it 2-1, with a great finish across goal from the left side on his weaker foot after some sloppy defending. The goal would set-up a nervy ending for Klopp’s men.

Just seven minutes from time and Southampton levelled the game through revitalised striker Pelle. The Italian bullied Skrtel and Sakho before powering a shot from around 20-yards out to make it 2-2.

It then got a whole lot worse for the Reds as they went from 2-0 up to 3-2 down thanks to Mane. A horrendous clearance by Mignolet, followed by a comical failed header by Skrtel eventually found its way to Mane who coolly slotted home to give the Saints the lead and all three points.

The defeat all but ends Liverpool’s late top four surge, with the substitution of Martin Skrtel being the major factor in the turnaround in the game.

Kolo Toure has been in fine form this season and would’ve been the most suited to come on for the Reds which could’ve lead to a much different outcome.

Liverpool now have a two week international break before hosting title hopeful Tottenham Hotspurs on the opening weekend of May.

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