Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Reds take Premier League title bid to last day
Joel Matip ensured the Premier League title race will go to the final day as Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1 at Southampton.
A Reds team showing nine changes from the weekend's FA Cup final over Chelsea found themselves down early through a fine Nathan Redmond strike.
However, Liverpool responded through a thunderous Takumi Minamino strike before the break and went on to secure the win in the second half as Matip headed home a corner in the 67th minute.
Victory moved Jurgen Klopp's men to just a point behind Manchester City at the summit, meaning the teams' respective final-day showdowns with Wolves and Aston Villa will decide the destination of the title.
Liverpool enjoyed plenty of the ball early on but were given a scare when Armando Broja escaped on the break before being denied by the trailing leg of Alisson.
A failure to heed that warning was punished with just 13 minutes gone as another Southampton counter ended with Redmond cutting in off the left to thrash a curling effort into the top-right corner.
Klopp was incensed by the failure to award a foul on Diogo Jota in the build-up to that goal, but that did not stop his team responding well to the setback.
They were denied an equaliser when Roberto Firmino was flagged offside in heading home a free-kick, but restored parity after 27 minutes as Minamino smashed home a cute Diogo Jota pass at close range.
That prompted a spell of Liverpool dominance, though they were unable to punish some lax Saints defending before a half-time break that saw Joe Gomez withdrawn due to injury. Jota poked the ball inches wide shortly after the restart following great work from Kostas Tsimikas.
The chances kept coming, Harvey Elliott hitting the side-netting, Jota skewing wide, and Firmino sending in a weak shot from distance. As such, it was no real surprise when the goal eventually came and, in fact, neither was the method.
Only Leicester City had conceded more headers than Southampton in the Premier League this term, while Liverpool had scored a league-high 15 goals in that manner and added another when Matip met Tsimikas' corner to loop one in.
Southampton tried to rally from there, but struggled to see much of the ball as Liverpool ensured City still have work to do on the final day.
What does it mean? Title race poised
Manchester City must beat Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to avoid the possibility of any last-day drama. A draw or a defeat would allow the Reds into top spot at the death, should they take victory over Wolves at Anfield.
As the Reds chased a second goal at St Mary's, it looked like Tsimikas' poor use of the ball might end up representing a theme of a frustrating night. But the Greece international finally got it right with one of his 15 deliveries into the box across the 90 minutes as he teed up Matip to grab the winner.
Tireless Milner sets the tone
With his contract expiring at the end of this season, Liverpool supporters may well be watching the end of James Milner's Anfield career. But he showed why he will be missed with eight out of 10 duels won, a 93 per cent passing accuracy, and six chances created.
Key Opta facts
- 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 Saints themselves dropped 29 in the 2018-19 season.
- Liverpool have scored 16 headed Premier League goals this season, the most of any side. The last three instances of a team scoring 16 or more headed goals in a season have been Liverpool: in 2018-19 (19), 2019-20 (18) and this term.
- Matip has ended on the winning side in all eight Premier League matches when he has found the net, while he has only lost in 10 of his 125 Premier League appearances (eight per cent), the lowest ratio of any of the 1,081 players to appear at least 100 times in the competition's history.
- 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 on this occasion). 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.
- Milner (Premier League debut: November 2002) started alongside Elliott (born April 2003), the first time two players have started alongside each other for a Premier League match with one making his Premier League debut before the other was born since Sam Field and Gareth Barry started together for West Brom against Crystal Palace in December 2017. Field was born six days after Barry's debut in May 1998.
Liverpool go into that meeting with Wolves on Sunday with a hope of lifting the title. Southampton finish off a campaign that has somewhat petered out with a trip to Leicester.