An inspired Southampton earned a crucial win in their battle against relegation as they all but ended Liverpool's top-four hopes.
The hosts stormed ahead when Jay Rodriguez nodded down for Morgan Schneiderlin to steer in a shot.
Rickie Lambert's deflected free-kick added Saints' second before Philippe Coutinho slotted in for the visitors.
But Rodriguez completed a home win when he side-footed in after his initial shot was saved by Brad Jones.
At a rain-lashed St Mary's, the final whistle was the signal for Southampton to revel in only a second win in eight games as they moved seven points above the relegation zone.
The south-coast club have now beaten Liverpool in four of the last five league games at home and the out-of-sorts visitors could have little complaint at the result.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said he wanted the Reds to have a "perfect" finish to the season.
But his team were off the pace from the start and any lingering aspirations of Champions League qualification appear to have been ended by a first defeat in four games.
"A huge three points for Southampton as they recorded only a second win under manager Mauricio Pochettino. Southampton were very good value for the win on a desperately poor day for Liverpool."
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers refused to get carried away after the 3-2 win over Tottenham last Sunday and was proved right as the inconsistency which has blighted his side's season struck again.
The hosts took the lead after six minutes: Gaston Ramirez flighting a left-footed cross to the far post where Rodriguez cushioned a header down for Schneiderlin, who guided past goalkeeper Jones from six yards.
The home side were scything through Liverpool seemingly at will and Southampton skipper Adam Lallana sent a half-volley fizzing over after the Reds failed to clear their lines.
Lambert also beat the offside trap to race clear, only to have his shot saved by the onrushing Jones.
Liverpool centre-back Martin Skrtel looked rusty as he made his first start in a month - and his foul on Lambert led to Southampton's second, with the Saints striker's free-kick deflecting in off Daniel Sturridge.
The movement and menace of Rodriguez was a key feature of the home side's attacking verve and, after Lallana's shot had been parried across goal by Jones, the forward's half-volley on the swivel went just high of a gaping goal.
- Southampton striker Rickie Lambert is the highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season with 13 goals.
- Philippe Coutinho has been involved in four goals in four starts for Liverpool in the Premier League (two goals, two assists).
Liverpool belatedly and briefly raised themselves towards the end of the first half as Glen Johnson sent Coutinho clear, with the Brazilian's shot being blocked after keeper Artur Boruc came out to save.
Coutinho had a spell on loan at Espanyol under Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino last season, with his former boss describing him as "similar to Lionel Messi" this week.
And he atoned for his miss when he pulled one back on the stroke of half-time.
A Luis Suarez cross was nodded back across the home goal by Gerrard and, after Sturridge's shot was blocked, Coutinho pounced to slot in.
Both defences had an air of vulnerability about them after the break, although neither team could capitalise.
Sturridge scuffed a shot wide after a Gerrard cross was only partially cleared, while Lallana was played through before his steered shot from a tight angle was saved.
Liverpool struggled for any cutting edge and Rodriguez compounded their misery with his late goal.
The forward waltzed through the Liverpool defence and, after his first shot was saved by Jones, Rodriguez slotted in the rebound to secure a deserved three points.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "It certainly wasn't how we have been playing in the past few weeks.
"We didn't get going until it was 2-0 down. We conceded poor goals which has been unlike us and we are disappointed at that.
"We never really got started. It certainly wasn't the level we have been at and it was one of those days for us."
- 31 Boruc
- 02 Clyne
- 03 Yoshida
- 05 Hooiveld (Fonte - 31' )
- 23 Shaw
- 04 Schneiderlin
- 10 Ramirez (S Davis - 55' )
- 18 Cork
- 20 Lallana (Guly - 84' )
- 07 Lambert
- 09 Rodriguez
- 01 K Davis
- 06 Fonte
- 15 Forren
- 08 S Davis
- 16 Ward-Prowse
- 21 Guly
- 42 Puncheon
- 01 Jones
- 02 Johnson
- 03 Jose Enrique
- 05 Agger
- 37 Skrtel
- 08 Gerrard
- 10 Coutinho
- 19 Downing
- 24 Allen (Lucas - 46' )
- 07 Suarez Booked
- 15 Sturridge (Henderson - 83' )
- 42 Gulacsi
- 47 Wisdom
- 14 Henderson
- 21 Lucas
- 33 Shelvey
- 44 Ibe
- 30 Suso
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee blows his whistle to end the game.90:00 +2:55
The assistant referee signals for offside against Luis Suarez. Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.90:00 +2:09
Jack Cork takes a shot. Save made by Brad Jones.90:00 +1:31
Artur Boruc takes the direct free kick.90:00 +1:31 Booking
Booking Booking for Luis Suarez.90:00 +1:21
Luis Suarez gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Artur Boruc.90:00 +0:17
The ball is sent over by Glen Johnson, Shot from close in by Sanchez Jose Enrique misses to the left of the goal.89:34
The referee penalises Morgan Schneiderlin for handball. Martin Skrtel takes the free kick.88:26
Rickie Lambert crosses the ball, Steven Gerrard makes a clearance.86:42
Short corner taken by Stewart Downing.86:33
The ball is sent over by Glen Johnson, blocked by Luke Shaw.83:16 Substitution
Substitution Guly Do Prado replaces Adam Lallana.82:55 Substitution
Substitution Jordan Henderson replaces Daniel Sturridge.79:23
Jack Cork provided the assist for the goal.79:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Jay Rodriguez - Southamp'n 3 - 1 Liverpool Jay Rodriguez finds the back of the net with a goal from inside the area low into the middle of the goal. Southampton 3-1 Liverpool.79:20
Jay Rodriguez takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.77:00
Adam Lallana takes the chance to get an effort at goal. Save by Brad Jones.76:12
Steven Gerrard takes a shot. Save by Artur Boruc.75:51
Morgan Schneiderlin gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Leiva Lucas. Leiva Lucas takes the free kick.74:22
The ball is sent over by Morgan Schneiderlin, clearance made by Glen Johnson.
Corner taken by Steven Davis, clearance made by Daniel Agger.73:27
Jay Rodriguez takes a shot. Blocked by Martin Skrtel.73:06
Daniel Sturridge sends in a cross, Artur Boruc makes a save.72:21
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Phillippe Coutinho, clearance made by Maya Yoshida.71:29
Adam Lallana challenges Stewart Downing unfairly and gives away a free kick. Steven Gerrard crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Artur Boruc.70:46
Free kick awarded for a foul by Morgan Schneiderlin on Phillippe Coutinho. Direct free kick taken by Martin Skrtel.69:39
Unfair challenge on Adam Lallana by Daniel Sturridge results in a free kick. Jack Cork takes the direct free kick.69:05
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Stewart Downing from the right by-line, clearance made by Jose Fonte.68:16
Rickie Lambert gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Steven Gerrard. Steven Gerrard takes the free kick.66:54
Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Adam Lallana, clearance made by Steven Gerrard.66:45
The ball is crossed by Nathaniel Clyne, Glen Johnson manages to make a clearance.65:45
The ball is delivered by Stewart Downing, clearance made by Maya Yoshida.65:24
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Phillippe Coutinho by Jack Cork. Direct free kick taken by Stewart Downing.63:47
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Luis Suarez by Nathaniel Clyne. Luis Suarez fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick, save made by Artur Boruc.62:32
Phillippe Coutinho challenges Jay Rodriguez unfairly and gives away a free kick. Maya Yoshida takes the free kick.60:16
Steven Davis takes the inswinging corner, save made by Brad Jones.59:08
A cross is delivered by Rickie Lambert, save by Brad Jones.58:55
Centre by Steven Davis, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.58:36
Adam Lallana takes a outswinging corner.58:27
A cross is delivered by Jay Rodriguez, clearance by Sanchez Jose Enrique.56:30
Unfair challenge on Steven Gerrard by Steven Davis results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Brad Jones.56:19
The ball is swung over by Adam Lallana, clearance made by Glen Johnson.54:22 Substitution
Substitution Gaston Ramirez leaves the field to be replaced by Steven Davis.53:53
The ball is sent over by Steven Gerrard, Effort from inside the area by Daniel Sturridge misses to the right of the target.53:08
Corner taken by Steven Gerrard, Jack Cork manages to make a clearance.50:49
Free kick awarded for a foul by Phillippe Coutinho on Jack Cork. Maya Yoshida takes the free kick.49:52
The referee blows for offside against Phillippe Coutinho. Artur Boruc takes the indirect free kick.49:10
Sanchez Jose Enrique crosses the ball, save by Artur Boruc.45:01
The second half has started.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Leiva Lucas joins the action as a substitute, replacing Joe Allen.45:00 +2:24 Half time
Half Time The referee calls an end to the first half.45:00 +0:30
Daniel Sturridge takes a shot. Blocked by Jose Fonte.45:00 +0:32
Daniel Sturridge provided the assist for the goal.45:00 +0:32 Goal scored
Goal! - Phillippe Coutinho - Southamp'n 2 - 1 Liverpool Goal scored by Phillippe Coutinho from close in to the bottom left corner of the goal. Southampton 2-1 Liverpool.43:46
Joe Allen concedes a free kick for a foul on Adam Lallana. Gaston Ramirez takes the direct free kick.42:25
Adam Lallana produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.41:37
The ball is swung over by Nathaniel Clyne, Headed effort from deep inside the penalty area by Jay Rodriguez misses to the left of the goal.39:36
Phillippe Coutinho takes a shot. Save made by Artur Boruc.38:02
Jay Rodriguez has an effort at goal from just outside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.37:08
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Joe Allen by Adam Lallana. Glen Johnson takes the free kick.36:37
Daniel Sturridge crosses the ball, Jose Fonte manages to make a clearance.36:03
Rickie Lambert sends in a cross.35:13
Daniel Sturridge is ruled offside. Maya Yoshida takes the free kick.32:38 Goal scored
Goal! - Rickie Lambert - Southamp'n 2 - 0 Liverpool Free kick scored by Rickie Lambert from outside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Southampton 2-0 Liverpool.31:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Rickie Lambert by Martin Skrtel.29:18
Artur Boruc takes the indirect free kick.29:18 Substitution
Substitution Jose Fonte comes on in place of Jos Hooiveld.29:18
Daniel Sturridge is ruled offside.28:24
Shot by Daniel Sturridge from 30 yards. Save made by Artur Boruc.26:48
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jos Hooiveld by Luis Suarez. Direct free kick taken by Artur Boruc.24:54
The ball is swung over by Sanchez Jose Enrique.22:00
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Adam Lallana, save by Brad Jones.21:50
The ball is delivered by Gaston Ramirez, Sanchez Jose Enrique manages to make a clearance.20:29
Jay Rodriguez produces a right-footed shot from inside the six-yard box that clears the bar.20:26
Adam Lallana takes a shot. Brad Jones makes a save.17:55
Jay Rodriguez fouled by Joe Allen, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Jack Cork.17:05
Jay Rodriguez takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.15:51
Foul by Luis Suarez on Morgan Schneiderlin, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Maya Yoshida.14:58
Gaston Ramirez takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.14:29
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Adam Lallana from the right by-line to the near post.14:15
The ball is delivered by Nathaniel Clyne, blocked by Phillippe Coutinho.11:10
Martin Skrtel fouled by Rickie Lambert, the ref awards a free kick. Brad Jones takes the direct free kick.9:46
Corner taken by Gaston Ramirez played to the near post.9:34
Rickie Lambert takes a shot. Save by Brad Jones.9:00
Effort on goal by Adam Lallana from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.8:47
Centre by Adam Lallana, Martin Skrtel makes a clearance.5:17
Assist on the goal came from Jay Rodriguez.5:17 Goal scored
Goal! - Morgan Schneiderlin - Southamp'n 1 - 0 Liverpool Morgan Schneiderlin scores a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Southampton 1-0 Liverpool.5:14
The ball is sent over by Rickie Lambert.4:55
The official flags Daniel Sturridge offside. Artur Boruc takes the indirect free kick.4:09
Luke Shaw delivers the ball, Effort on goal by Gaston Ramirez from 12 yards. Save by Brad Jones. Steven Gerrard fouled by Morgan Schneiderlin, the ref awards a free kick. Steven Gerrard takes the free kick.2:07
The assistant referee signals for offside against Daniel Sturridge. Artur Boruc restarts play with the free kick.1:35
Inswinging corner taken by Stewart Downing, clearance made by Morgan Schneiderlin.1:07
Unfair challenge on Jack Cork by Steven Gerrard results in a free kick. Luke Shaw takes the free kick.0:00
The referee gets the game started.
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