A much-changed Liverpool came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s on Tuesday night and ensure the Premier League title race goes right down to the final day.
After the exertions of beating Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup final on Saturday, Liverpool made nine changes for the trip to the south coast and were without injured Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk. Out-of-form Southampton sensed an opportunity and Nathan Redmond stunned the visitors with just 13 minutes on the clock.
That goal will have sparked celebrations among Manchester City supporters, with Pep Guardiola’s side set to be crowned champions had Liverpool gone on to lose – but their response was impressive.
Takumi Minamino lashed in at the near post to pull them level (27) on his first Premier League start of the season and Joel Matip completed the turnaround (67), deflecting the ball in from Kyle Walker-Peters’ defensive header from a corner.
The victory means FA Cup and Carabao Cup winners Liverpool move on to 89 points with just one game to play, a point behind leaders City.
They will now hope former captain Steven Gerrard can do them a favour when his Aston Villa side go to the Etihad on Sunday, with Liverpool taking on Wolves at Anfield.
City will clinch the title if they at least match Liverpool’s result on the final day. A City defeat and Liverpool draw would also be enough for Guardiola’s men, assuming City’s loss to Villa did not cause a seven-goal swing on goal difference.
What needs to happen on Sunday for Liverpool to be champions?
Man City vs Aston Villa; Liverpool vs Wolves
Man City will clinch the title if they at least match Liverpool’s result on the final day.
A City defeat and Liverpool draw would also be enough for Guardiola’s men, assuming City’s loss to Villa did not cause a six-goal swing on goal difference.
As for 15th-placed Southampton, their season is finishing in frustrating fashion, with just one win in their past 11 Premier League games. However, after twice drawing with Man City this season and beating Tottenham and Arsenal, they showed they could hurt the top teams again.
Southampton: McCarthy (5), Walker-Peters (5), Lyanco (6), Stephens (6), Salisu (6), Tella (6), Redmond (7), Ward-Prowse (7), Diallo (6), Broja (6), Elyounoussi (6).
Subs: S. Armstrong (6), C. Adams (6)
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Gomez (6), Konate (7), Matip (7), Tsimikas (7), Jones (7), Elliott (7), Milner (7), Minamino (7), Jota (7), Firmino (8).
Subs: Henderson (7), Origi (6), Keita (6)
Man of the match: Roberto Firmino
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had called on his side to be aggressive and brave on the ball and they were just that on 13 minutes. Lyanco robbed Diogo Jota in Saints’ half and, with Klopp screaming at the officials for a foul from the touchline, released Redmond to run into space down the left, step in on his right and, with the help of a nick off James Milner, find the far corner.
- Southampton made five changes from their 3-0 defeat at Brentford. Injured goalkeeper Fraser Forster was replaced by Alex McCarthy, while Jan Bednarek, Romain Perraud – who has suffered a leg fracture – Adam Armstrong and Stuart Armstrong dropped to the bench. In came Jack Stephens, Lyanco, Nathan Tella and Mohamed Elyounoussi.
- Liverpool made nine changes from their FA Cup win over Chelsea, with only Alisson and Ibrahima Konate keeping their starting spots from Saturday. Takumi Minamino made his first Premier League start of the season.
St Mary’s erupted – and so must have the blue half of Manchester – but Liverpool’s response suggested any champagne-popping was likely to be premature. And so it proved. Firmino was denied by the offside flag after heading in Kostas Tsimikas’ cross but there was nothing wrong with Minamino’s hammered finish 10 minutes later.
Alex McCarthy was beaten at his near post but stood no chance given the power produced by the Japan international, whose celebrations were muted as a nod to his loan spell here last season.
Jota’s scissor-kick was blocked, Curtis Jones shot wide and Firmino powered an effort over the bar as Liverpool pressed for a second before half-time – although an injury to Joe Gomez on the stroke of the interval was a concern, with captain Jordan Henderson replacing him.
The visitors picked up where they left off at the start of the second half, with Jota volleying inches past the far post, Harvey Elliott hitting the side-netting and Jones going wide again before Matip eventually delivered the second.
It was an odd goal, with a flicked-on corner deflecting off Walker-Peters’ head, onto Matip’s and looping into the net – but the bouncing travelling support didn’t care about that.
Their side’s 15th win in their last 17 Premier League games has kept the title race alive right down to the wire and an intriguing final day awaits.
Klopp: It’s like having Ferraris in the garage!
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “An incredible performance. After making nine changes, if it didn’t work out it was my responsibility, now it worked out it’s the boys’ responsibility. I thought they did exceptionally well. Some incredible performances tonight.
“I saw a group reaction to a blow [for the Southampton goal]. I didn’t see it back but thought it was a clear foul and in these situations, you can lose nerves but the boys kept going. We controlled the game. We calmed that atmosphere down, it became a normal game and not the game Southampton wanted.
“The last 10 minutes, we have to work on how we can play time down without getting into trouble but a deserved three points. Fantastic. I’m so happy about the performance it was a bit touching. Wow. These boys. It’s like having Ferraris in the garage.
“If I’m in [City’s] situation I don’t feel like I’m champion again [yet]. It’s football. We have to first win our game. That’s difficult enough.”
Hasenhuttl: We have a lot to do in the summer to be better
Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl: “We have played against a good team that made a lot of changes but still had a lot of quality up front. It was a perfect start for us. We took a lot of risks today – sometimes it was a little bit scary – but the goal was exactly what we wanted to do. We had nothing to lose.
“Against the ball, we tried a different way to defend, deeper because in the last weeks we’re conceding too many goals. it worked ok. We know we try to get better and we have a lot of things in the summer to do better.”
Opta stats – Liverpool still unbeaten in 2022
- Liverpool are the only side yet to lose a Premier League match in 2022, remaining unbeaten in their first 18 matches this year (W15 D3). They are first side to remain unbeaten in their first 18 Premier League matches of a calendar year since Chelsea in 2008 (first 26).
- Southampton have dropped 29 points from winning positions in the Premier League this season, the most of any side and the most by a team in a single season since the Saints themselves dropped 29 in the 2018-19 season.
- Since the start of March, only Watford (9) have lost more Premier League games than Southampton (8), while only the Hornets have shipped more goals (28) than the Saints (26).
- Liverpool have scored 16 headed Premier League goals this season, the most of any side, while no team has conceded more headers than Southampton (14). The last three instances of a team scoring 16+ headed goals in a season have been Liverpool: in 2018-19 (19) and 2019-20 (18).
- Liverpool’s Joel Matip has ended on the winning side in all eight Premier League matches when he’s found the net, while he’s only lost in 10 of his 125 Premier League appearances (8%), the lowest ratio of any of the 1,081 players to appear at least 100 times in the competition’s history.
- Takumi Minamino has scored in each of his last two Premier League starts for Liverpool, separated by 514 days (vs Crystal Palace in December 2020 and Southampton). It was the biggest gap between scoring in consecutive starts for a Premier League club since Duncan Ferguson for Everton in April 2002 (vs Leicester) and September 2003 (vs Leeds), a gap of 533 days.
On the final day of the Premier League season, Liverpool host Wolves and Southampton go to Leicester, with all games kicking off at 4pm on Sunday.
May 22 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 28 – Real Madrid (n) Champions League final