Premier League
SouthamptonSouthampton0LiverpoolLiverpool2
By Mike WhalleyBBC Sport
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho
Philippe Coutinho's goal was his first in the Premier League since December
  • Liverpool have taken 23 points from possible 27
  • Coutinho curls in fourth goal of the season
  • Southampton suffer third defeat in five games
  • Sterling secures fourth straight Liverpool win

Liverpool moved to within two points of a Champions League place by scoring with their first two shots on target at fifth-placed Southampton.

Philippe Coutinho scored with a 25-yard curler in the third minute.

Southampton had two early penalty appeals turned down, as challenges on Filip Djuricic by Emre Can and Joe Allen went unpunished.

Raheem Sterling also had a penalty claim rejected, but made it 2-0 when Matt Targett failed to clear a cross.

MOTD2 analysis
Mark Lawrenson: "Liverpool have not become a defensive-minded team but now they have a different way of winning games, compared to last season when their tactic was 'attack or bust' and they would concede goals but just look to outscore the opposition."
Read more: How Reds' rise is built from the back

Liverpool are the only team not to have lost a Premier League match in 2015 and are well placed to push for a top-four finish in their final 12 matches.

The result saw Brendan Rodgers' side leapfrog Tottenham into sixth and left them three points behind third-placed Arsenal.

The race for Europe

They had to ride their luck, though, to hold on to the early lead given to them in spectacular fashion by Coutinho.

The Brazil midfielder gathered Lazar Markovic's pass and hit a third-minute strike that bounced in off the underside of the crossbar.

Pointing towards success
Liverpool have taken more points from their last nine Premier League games (23) than they took from their opening 17 of the season (22).

Liverpool had already survived a penalty appeal by that point, as on-loan Benfica midfielder Djuricic burst into the area and appeared to be pushed over by Can, but referee Kevin Friend gave nothing.

Saints denied clear penalty - Koeman

Southampton were appealing in vain again within a minute of Coutinho's goal, as Djuricic looked to have been fouled by Allen, with Eljero Elia's follow-up shot saved by Simon Mignolet amid the confusion.

The visitors had a penalty claim of their own rejected when Jose Fonte took Sterling's legs from underneath him - although the defender could argue he got the ball first.

There was more controversy before the break, with Mignolet appearing to handle just outside the box as he raced out to stop Elia reaching Nathaniel Clyne's through ball.

Mean machine
Liverpool have kept five successive away league clean sheets for the first time since 1985.

Markovic, despite his assist for Coutinho's goal, looked uncomfortable in the left wing-back role as Liverpool wobbled defensively, and Rodgers' decision to replace him at half-time with Alberto Moreno gave the visitors a more solid look.

The hosts failed to open the Reds up as they had done in the first half, and conceded a second when Moreno broke down the left after Morgan Schneiderlin had given the ball away, and Targett's scuffed clearance fell for Sterling to sweep in.

By then, Southampton had run out of ideas, and Rodgers' side had a fourth successive victory secured.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "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. We've beaten Southampton home and away and that's a sign of how well we're playing.

Rodgers hails 'giant step forward'

"We could have been better on the ball, but the conditions were very difficult. The overall performance was very good.

"Philippe Coutinho's goal was a wonderful goal in terms of the system of how we play, working the ball to the sides and drawing players out. It's a wonderful strike.

"My only regret is that we didn't really get going until November. We're three points off third place, which is great."

On Southampton's second penalty appeal: "Sometimes decisions can go against you. I can see why Kevin didn't give it. The ball's getting away from Filip Djuricic and he pushes his body into Joe Allen. Then Joe swings at the ball and doesn't make contact. Kevin was excellent, he was under pressure from the crowd but he had great control of the game."

Philippe Coutinho celebrates his goal against Southampton with Liverpool team-mates
Coutinho scored with Liverpool's only shot at goal in the opening 45 minutes
Philippe Coutinho
Coutinho scored a similarly spectacular goal to win Liverpool's FA Cup tie at Bolton last month
Simon Mignolet
Mignolet appeared to handle outside his penalty area as Elia charged through
Raheem Sterling scores Liverpool's second goal against Southampton
Sterling scored Liverpool's second goal with only their second shot on target

Line-ups

Southampton

  • 23Forster
  • 2Clyne
  • 6José Fonte
  • 3Yoshida
  • 33Targett
  • 16Ward-ProwseSubstituted forManéat 57'minutes
  • 12WanyamaBooked at 63mins
  • 8DavisSubstituted forSchneiderlinat 45'minutes
  • 15DjuricicSubstituted forTadicat 75'minutes
  • 19Pellè
  • 22EliaBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Davis
  • 4Schneiderlin
  • 5Gardos
  • 7Long
  • 10Mané
  • 11Tadic
  • 28Reed

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 6LovrenBooked at 43mins
  • 37Skrtel
  • 23Can
  • 33IbeSubstituted forJohnsonat 75'minutes
  • 14HendersonBooked at 84mins
  • 24Allen
  • 50MarkovicSubstituted forMorenoat 45'minutesBooked at 78mins
  • 20LallanaSubstituted forSturridgeat 62'minutes
  • 10Coutinho
  • 31Sterling

Substitutes

  • 2Johnson
  • 4K Touré
  • 9Lambert
  • 15Sturridge
  • 18Moreno
  • 45Balotelli
  • 52Ward
Referee:
Kevin Friend
Attendance:
31,723

Match Stats

Home TeamSouthamptonAway TeamLiverpool
Possession
Home60%
Away40%
Shots
Home13
Away6
Shots on Target
Home5
Away4
Corners
Home6
Away1
Fouls
Home11
Away14

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Southampton 0, Liverpool 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Southampton 0, Liverpool 2.

  3. Post update

    Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jordan Henderson with a headed pass.

  4. Booking

    Eljero Elia (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jose Fonte.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Raheem Sterling.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Victor Wanyama with a cross.

  8. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Maya Yoshida (Southampton) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  9. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Dusan Tadic (Southampton) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  10. Post update

    Sadio Mané (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

  12. Post update

    Offside, Southampton. Matt Targett tries a through ball, but Graziano Pellè is caught offside.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Emre Can.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton).

  15. Post update

    Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Booking

    Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  17. Post update

    Eljero Elia (Southampton) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

  19. Post update

    Delay over. They are ready to continue.

  20. Post update

    Delay in match Glen Johnson (Liverpool) because of an injury.

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