Liverpool made it two wins from two to start the season following a 2-1 victory at Southampton on Saturday, equalling a club record of 11 successive Premier League victories.
Former Saints forward Sadio Mane sent Jurgen Klopp’s men on their way to three points with a stunning strike in first half stoppage time before Roberto Firmino made it two in the second half. An awful mistake from Adrian gave Danny Ings the chance to make it 2-1 and set up a nervy finale, but the visitors held on.
Liverpool were made to sweat ahead of the game with Adrian suffering an ankle injury after an accidental clash with a fan following his penalty save against Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup.
“Adrian had a swollen ankle and we played too many balls back to him,” Klopp said after the match. “I was happy with everything he did today, all the saves, all that stuff.
“Sadio scored a fantastic goal in pretty much the best moment… of the first half, in the last second pretty much. That helped, of course, and in the second half we made other big steps.”
Liverpool’s penalty shootout victory over Chelsea in midweek looked like it had taken its toll at times in the first half, with Che Adams going close for Southampton and last season’s Champions League winners struggling amid fierce pressure from the home side. Adams was a constant threat for the hosts and should scored at least once in the first half, heading over when unmarked just before the break.
Southampton were made to pay for failing to break the deadlock when Mane put Liverpool in front. Mane collected the ball from James Milner, stepped away from Jan Bednarek and whipped a brilliant curling shot into the far corner of the net.
The goal, Mane’s 16th in his last 18 starts, changed the flow of the game with Liverpool more in control in the second half. Mohamed Salah should have made it 2-0 soon after the restart but his effort was too weak to cause Angus Gunn problems.
Firmino then went even closer following good work from Mane but after squandering a simple chance, he made the game safe after putting Liverpool 2-0 up with his 49th Premier League goal 20 minutes from time.
There was still time for Ings to capitalise on a dreadful error from Adrian, in for the injured Alisson, but his 83rd minute strike wasn’t enough. Adrian tried to play a clever pass but Ings was on hand to intercept and slide the ball home, setting up an anxious end to the game for Klopp’s men.
Ings had a chance to complete a shock comeback in the dying minutes but somehow managed to miss an easy opportunity inside the box, much to Liverpool’s relief.
“After playing 120 minutes on Wednesday [in the Super Cup] it was not easy,” Mane told the BBC. “But we got the three points and I think we deserved it. Once we scored the first goal it was easier for us.”
Mane had mixed emotions about scoring against his former club and conceded Liverpool were rattled by Adrian’s blunder.
“I’m sorry I have to score but I’m wearing a Liverpool shirt now. Southampton was a very good step for me, I have big respect for this club, he said. “[After Southampton’s goal] I was nervous because it wasn’t over. We had another 10 minutes to go. It can happen, it is part of football.”