Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has warned Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho that he faces a fight to the bitter end in the race for second place after his side chalked up a regulation Premier League win at Southampton.
First-half goals from Roberto Firmino – his 20th of the campaign – and the irrepressible Mohamed Salah secured maximum points for the visitors, who have now scored more away goals this term than during the entirety of last season.
Their victory, coupled with United’s shock defeat at Newcastle, cut the lead enjoyed by Mourinho’s outfit over Liverpool to just two points, while defeat left Southampton rooted in the relegation mire, a point from safety.
“I didn’t know United had lost before the game, but we know we’re not far away, and we play against them at least one more time this season,” said Klopp. “The only thing we can do is win our games, but it will stay tight until the end.”
Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino, meanwhile, lambasted the attitude of his players during the second half as they failed to build on last week’s triumph at fellow strugglers West Brom, meaning his side have won just once in 14 top-flight matches.
“The second half was really bad,” he said. “The people see our reaction on the pitch and the players feel the reaction. The anxiety in my players was really high. We understand the emotions of the fans but we have to keep this going.”
Returning centre-half Virgil van Dijk tasted victory in the league for the first time since his £75m move to Merseyside from Southampton in January as Klopp chalked up his 50th win as Reds boss.
Liverpool opened the scoring on six minutes as Firmino tucked away a low shot following a lay-off from Salah, who was the beneficiary of the Brazilian’s backheel shortly before the break as he fired home his side’s second.