Relegation threatened Southampton, with one win in 14 games, struggled at St. Mary’s as Liverpool comfortably ran out winners in Jurgen Klopp’s 50th win as the Reds manager. In doing so the Reds moved within two points of second placed Manchester United following goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on Virgil van Dijk’s return to St. Mary’s after his £75m January move to Anfield.
Firmino struck early after Southampton centre-back Wesley Hoedt’s mistake, as the Dutchman horribly misjudged a Liverpool ball forward and gifted possession to the last player on the pitch that the Saints should allow to have the ball, Salah. The Egyptian forward laid the ball through to Firmino and the Brazilian finished the one-on-one with ease to score his first goal in seven games.
Southampton occasionally threatened Loris Karius in the Red’s goal, and actually had chances to upset Van Dijk’s new side, however they were unable to take their chances.
They lived to regret this as wonderful interplay between Firmino and Salah just before half-time meant that Salah scored Liverpool’s second and his 22nd league goal of the season and 29th in all competitions from 36 games.
Liverpool picked up where they left off after the break, as they controlled possession and were only prevented more goals by last-ditch defending from Southampton.
Klopp’s pre-match predictions regarding a hostile atmosphere upon Van Dijk’s return to St. Mary’s proved to be correct, as the Dutchman was angrily booed by the home supporters every time he touched the ball. Nevertheless, this did not faze the former Saints center-back as he produced a very solid display.
Van Dijk epitomized exactly what Southampton now lack at the back and what Liverpool were looking for when signing him in order to strengthen a previously very weak and fragile area.