Liverpool gave their top-four hopes a major boost after edging to a 2-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield.
The Saints started the game brightly and should have taken the lead when Che Adams was played in behind with the goal gaping. But his shot was superbly saved by Alisson, and seconds later, the Reds were ahead.
Mohamed Salah found space to cross from the right, and his delivery was met by Sadio Mane at the far post, who headed home to give Liverpool a much-needed boost.
The Reds continued to push for a second in the second half, with Diogo Jota forcing Fraser Forster into an excellent save at his near post. Saints struggled to create many chances, although Nathan Tella should have done better with a header that he planted into the gloves of Alisson.
The Brazilian keeper almost gifted the visitors a goal with a poor pass out from the back, but after saving Adams’ effort, it was left to Thiago Alcantara to wrap things up – the Spaniard curling in a beautiful finish to keep Liverpool in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Let’s check out the player ratings.
Ailsson Becker (GK) – 8/10 – Called into action to smother Adams and did so brilliantly and bravely. Liverpool scored seconds later, reiterating what an important player he is to this team.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 7/10 – Whacked a few trademark cross-field passes into the path of Robertson with frightening accuracy. Took a huge risking and lost possession on the edge of his own box, though, forcing Alisson into a good save.
Nathaniel Phillips (CB) – 8/10 – Such a strong, physical defender. Battled hard with Adams and got the better of the forward for large parts of the game. Read his movement nicely and was often positioned in the right place.
Rhys Williams (CB) – 7/10 – Didn’t allow Tella or Redmond out of his sight, and used the safety of Alisson when he needed to turn out of trouble.
Andy Robertson (LB) – 7/10 – Played his part in the opener, feeding the ball to Mane before the winger eventually whipped it wide to Salah. Stopped Walcott from playing his natural game.
Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 8/10 – Had to scrap against a very combative Saints midfield. Regularly pulled and tugged by opponents as he spun into space. Gave some back, too. Lovely finish to kill the game.
Fabinho (CM) – 8/10 – Moved the ball from side to side, clipping first time passes wide to add a bit of tempo to a slow game. Slipped the ball to Salah to curl in the cross for the opener. The metronome.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 7/10 – Headed against the crossbar from a corner and arrived first to plenty of second balls in the midfield.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7/10 – Tried to squeeze the ball through Forster at the near post, but couldn’t beat the keeper. Floated the perfect cross onto Mane’s head for the opener.
Diogo Jota (ST) – 7/10 – Started the game like a man with a point to prove, riding challenges to push Liverpool forward. Should have done better when in front of goal, but blazed straight at Forster.
Sadio Mane (LW) – 8/10 – Fired over the bar from the edge of the box early on. Rose highest at the far post to head home Salah’s delivery. A vital goal at a tense moment in the match.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – 7/10
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 6/10
Curtis Jones (CM) – N/A
Fraser Forster (GK) – 6/10 – Stood tall to deny Salah at his front post but was guilty of presenting Jota with a needlss chance. Made some good saves.
Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 6/10 – Solid against a determined Mane. Helped his side escape down the right flank on a couple of occasions but did get caught out of position.
Jan Bednarek (CB) – 5/10 – Allowed Mane to get a leap on him for the opener and could only watch him plant his header into the net.
Jannik Vestergaard (CB) – 7/10 – Stuck a boot in the way to deny Wijnaldum from range. Repelled plenty of crosses that came in his direction and marshalled the backline with authority.
Jack Stephens (LB) – 5/10 – Couldn’t live with Salah’s intensity and was often outfought for the high diagonal balls towards his flank.
Theo Walcott (RM) – 6/10 – Ran into a couple of cul-de-sacs and lost possession in dangerous areas in the first half. Had a tough time beating Robertson.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 7/10 – Opened the pitch up effortlessly with one-touch cushioned passes, no matter how much pressure Liverpool applied. Read the danger wonderfully.
Stuart Armstrong (CM) – 6/10 – Confident in possession, holding onto the ball and releasing at the right time or winning a free-kick with a smart turn. A good player.
Nathan Tella (LM) – 6/10 – Found space in the box but somehow headed straight at Alisson from six yards out. Anywhere else and it was a goal.
Che Adams (ST) – 5/10 – Wasted the best chance of the half for Southampton, clipping a shot which hit Alisson on the arm. It was uphill from there.
Nathan Redmond (ST) – 6/10 – Not afraid to run at Alexander-Arnold and bend crosses into the six-yard box. Final ball was just lacking on occasion.
Michael Obafemi (ST) – 6/10
Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – 6/10
Moussa Djenepo (LW) – 6/10