Misfiring Liver­pool held in Southamp­ton stale­mate

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

SOUTHAMP­TON: Premier League lead­ers Liver­pool missed a chance to bur­nish their ti­tle cre­den­tials as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Southamp­ton yes­ter­day. Jur­gen Klopp’s men had the ma­jor­ity of pos­ses­sion, but Southamp­ton goal­keeper Fraser Forster de­nied his for­mer team-mate Sa­dio Mane in the first half and Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne missed sec­ond-half chances.

Liver­pool re­main in first place ahead of Manch­ester City only on goals scored, but now Chelsea will go above them with a win at Mid­dles­brough to­day. Both sides were with­out key cre­ative play­ers, with Southamp­ton mid­fielder Du­san Tadic not risked af­ter break­ing his nose while on in­ter­na­tional duty. For­mer Southamp­ton cap­tain Adam Lal­lana did not travel with the Liver­pool party af­ter sus­tain­ing an in­jury while play­ing for Eng­land. But Coutinho was deemed fit enough to start de­spite a ham­string problem while De­jan Lovren, an­other ex-Saint, re­turned to the back four af­ter re­cov­er­ing from a virus. Lovren was jeered ev­ery time he re­ceived the ball in an early spell of Liver­pool pos­ses­sion that forced the home side back to­wards their own penalty area. But when the Merseysiders were able to find a gap, ei­ther their touch or the final pass eluded them. Southamp­ton were see­ing lit­tle of the ball and were re­stricted to at­tacks on the break, one of which ended with right back Cedric Soares shoot­ing a yard wide with his left foot from 22 yards. The Por­tu­gal de­fender then sent over a cross from the right that Liver­pool goal­keeper Loris Kar­ius punched clear un­der very lit­tle pres­sure.

Oth­er­wise it was mostly Liver­pool and they cre­ated what could have been a de­ci­sive open­ing in the 28th minute when Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum found Mane free in the penalty area with an in­tel­li­gent di­ag­o­nal pass. Mane’s shot was struck hard and true but Saints’ Eng­land goal­keeper Forster flung him­self to his left to save. Five min­utes from the break, Mane had an­other chance as he charged goal­wards from the right but Vir­gil Van Dijk slid in to block the Sene­gal winger’s shot. Saints were still not an at­tack­ing force, which was shown when Char­lie Austin got into the penalty area and looked around for sup­port-but found none.

The sec­ond half opened in sim­i­lar fash­ion. Liver­pool ap­pealed con­fi­dently but in vain for a penalty as Van Dijk tugged Firmino’s shirt, Forster saved Mane’s shot at the foot of his near post and Coutinho sliced his shot wide af­ter Firmino’s pass sent him in on goal. Then it was cen­tral de­fender Joel Matip’s turn to miss chances. First he failed to reach Coutinho’s invit­ing free kick from the right with an at­tempt at a header and the re­sult was the same from a cor­ner from the other side.

Liver­pool’s waste­ful­ness al­most cost them af­ter 59 min­utes when Austin’s head met a cross from Soares but his ef­fort glanced just wide. Five min­utes later Liver­pool missed their best chance yet. Coutinho’s pass found Firmino ad­vanc­ing into the penalty area with only Forster in front of him, but he slid his shot wide from 10 yards.

Next, Clyne headed wide af­ter beat­ing team­mates and op­po­nents alike to a cross from sub­sti­tute Daniel Stur­ridge. That was to be the final chance as Southamp­ton set­tled for a draw af­ter suc­ces­sive de­feats by Chelsea and Hull. — AFP

—AFP

SOUTHAMP­TON: Liver­pool’s English de­fender Nathaniel Clyne (C) heads the ball to­wards goal but fails to score dur­ing the English Premier League foot­ball match be­tween Southamp­ton and Liver­pool at St Mary’s Sta­dium in Southamp­ton, south­ern Eng­land yes­ter­day.

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