SOUTHAMPTON 0 LIVERPOOL 2
LIVERPOOL manager Brendan Rodgers believes his side overcame a sizeable hurdle in their quest for Champions League qualification after beating fellow top-four challengers Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium yesterday.
Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho curled home a stunning early opener while England forward Raheem Sterling ensured maximum points by firing past Saints keeper Fraser Forster after a mistake from rookie full-back Matt Targett.
In-form Liverpool are the only top-flight team not to lose in 2015 and have now taken 23 points from a possible 27, while victory moves the Reds sixth, two points behind four-placed Manchester United.
“We knew if we drew the game today, there were enough games still to make a challenge for the top four, but to win the game was a giant step,” said Rodgers. “We’ve beaten Southampton home and away and that’s a sign of how well we’re playing.
“It’s exciting. It’s fantastic. All the teams are up there. My only regret is that we didn’t really get going until November. We’re three points off third place, which is great.”
Southampton counterpart Ronald Koeman, meanwhile, revealed that Senegal midfielder Sadio Mane, who has scored five goals since his summer move from Red Bull Salzburg, was relegated to bench after arriving late at the stadium.
“He was supposed to play from the beginning. We have rules we have to respect. I had a problem because Sadio was too late at the stadium,” said Koeman. “It’s frustrating because we don’t have the results we need and expect. But I have confidence that we can finish in the top four because we showed we are a very good team.”