Shane Long downs the ‘Pool

On Wednesday the 25th of January, Southampton  sent Liverpool crashing out of the EFL cup semi-final with a 2-0 aggregate win. Claude Puel’s side are the first Southampton team to reach a league cup final since 1978. This result is a continuation of Liverpool’s bad form, with only one win out of their seven matches in 2017, including a loss to bottom-of-the-Premier-League Swansea.

Southampton had made two changes going into the game, with Virgil Van Djik missing through injury. He was replaced by  Jack Stephens in centre back, which allowed Stephen Davis the honour of being captain while filling in for Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Klopp made three changes to his side. This included the selection of Joel Matip, indicating that Klopp’s dispute with the Cameroonian over his eligibility had been put aside. Louis Karius, Daniel Sturridge and Trent Alexander-Arnold also returned to the squad.

Southampton could have wrapped up the tie in the first leg at St Mary’s, if not for poor finishing. This showed again in Anfield, with NathanRedmond presenting Tadic with a gilt-edged chance from six yards out, only for Karius to make a necessary save. A couple of minutes later, Redmond again escaped from the young Alexander-Arnold and sent an inch-perfect cross to Davis, who unfortunately smashed it wide.

Liverpool eventually grew into the game and came out fighting in the second half. Emre Can scared the Saints fans with a powerful shot that Forster was forced to deflect backwards before managing to snatch off the line. Goal-line technology deemed it not a goal. Sturridge would probably not enjoy watching the highlights, after he wasted two solid chances for the Reds. His first missed opportunity was from six yards out, where he skied it, and the second came six minutes later via a cross from Henderson, which Sturridge headed over the crossbar.

The closest Klopp’s side came after that was a wide effort from the brilliant Philippe Coutinho on 78 minutes. There were two possible penalty shouts in the last 10 minutes, with an apparent handball against goalscorer Shane Long on the 84-minute mark, and a controversial Stephen Davis tackle on Origi in the 90th minute. Referee Martin Atkinson awarded neither.

The Davis tackle led to a corner from which, instead of Liverpool grabbing the equaliser, Southampton got the winner. A fast counter attack (which has so often been associated with Klopp) from one box to the other was eventually finished by Shane Long, following a lung-bursting run. This led to jubilant celebrations from fans, players, and coaching staff alike.


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