The Citizen (Gauteng)

Reds stay in top four hunt


Liverpool – Liverpool kept alive their hopes of a top-four finish in the Premier League as Sadio Mane and Thiago Alcantara (above) sealed a 2-0 win against Southampto­n on Saturday night.

Juergen Klopp’s side moved above Tottenham into sixth place thanks to Mane’s first-half header and Thiago’s first goal for the club in the final moments at Anfield.

Liverpool’s first victory in four games in all competitio­ns leaves them six points behind fourthplac­ed Leicester with a game in hand in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

It was only their second league win at Anfield in their last 11 matches.

“We scored a really nice first goal but it’s familiar for us now to not finish the game early,” Klopp said.

“We had to stay in the game and scoring a wonderful second goal obviously was a big relief.

“The only way I know to win is to work really hard and that’s what we did. We had to fight, we got the three points, really good.”

Liverpool travel to second-placed Manchester United on Thursday for a crucial clash in their attempt to catch Leicester.

After the failed defence of the title they won last season, Liverpool would be delighted to salvage a troubled campaign with a top-four place.

To do that, they will probably need to win their last four games and hope Leicester and fifthplace­d West Ham stumble in the final stretch.

“We are kind of (in the race). It’s not impossible but it’s difficult. We will give it a try and see where we get to,” Klopp said.

Southampto­n, 10 points above the relegation zone with four matches left, have now lost 13 of their 17 league games since beating Liverpool in January.

The Saints have earned the fewest points and conceded the most goals in the Premier League in 2021.

Southampto­n nearly snatched the lead against the run of play when Che Adams met Nathan Tella’s low cross with a close-range effort that was well saved by Alisson Becker.

But 46 seconds later, Liverpool’s dominant spell paid dividends as they broke away to take the lead in the 31st minute.

Salah clipped a cross to the far post and Mane got behind the visitors defence to head home from close range.

Thiago settled Liverpool’s nerves in stoppage time when the former Bayern Munich midfielder rifled home from 18 yards.

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