So much for Liverpool’s midweek defeat of Tottenham leading to a late-season charge.
In one of the more shocking results in a season full of them for Liverpool, the Reds fell to Southampton 3-1 on Saturday.
The Saints were led by a trio of heroes—some surprising, some not so much. Midfielder MorganSchneiderlin scored his fifth goal of the season in the game’s sixth minute, sending a right-footed shot past Brad Jones for a tone-setting goal.
Playing before a raucous crowd at St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton’s momentum only continued from there.
Star forward Rickie Lambert again put the Saints on the board later in the first half, getting a free kick opportunity and knocking it through the net in the 33rd minute. The goal gave Southampton a 2-0 lead and put the underdog in a commanding position.
Just when everything seemed to be going Southampton’s way, Liverpool was able to reclaim some semblance of momentum near the end of the first half. Philippe Coutinho sent a right-footed shot past Artur Boruc following a rebound in extra time to close the first half.
The goal left both sides wondering if clock was about to strike midnight on this Cinderella story once the two sides returned.
However, Saturday was an evening for celebration at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Unfazed by Coutinho’s score, Southampton came back out for the final 45 minutes and performed just as well, if not better in the final frame. Though it ceded possession control to Liverpool slowly throughout the half—finishing at 48 percent—Southampton continued to take advantage of their opportunities.
Midfielder Jay Rodriguez scored a goal in the 80th minute—after a cabal of other attempts previously in the game—and put the contest away.
The loss for Liverpool is more disappointing than anything else. They aren’t a Champions League contender this season, anyway, but some may well view this as a low point in the season—especially after looking so strong versus Spurs midweek.
As for Southampton, this win could mean everything. They were on the fringes of relegation prior to the contest and this may be the triumph that ultimately keeps them off the chopping block.
Morgan Schneiderlin, Southampton: A
Getting the goal-scoring started is almost always the most difficult task on the pitch. Schneiderlin got it going early for Southampton on Saturday, carving his way through the Liverpool defense and knocking a beautiful goal through.
And say what you will about Schneiderlin as a developing midfielder overall, but he’s a pretty darned successful shooter. Saturday marked his fifth goal in only six on-target shots this season, which, as you can probably guess, is a pretty good accuracy rate.
Schneiderlin did not play a perfect match overall—his foul in the fifth minute wasn’t an advisable play—but goal-scoring is the automatic calling card to a perfect grade without a large mess up.
Rickie Lambert, Southampton: A
While Schneiderlin scored his goal and was essentially gone thereafter, Lambert was arguably the man of the match.
He narrowly missed scoring a goal in the 12th minute after a brilliant through ball from Adam Lallana, but did not get the least bit discouraged. The star forward continued to do what he does best and attacked deep into Liverpool’s zone before his hometown crowd.
It all culminated with Lambert’s goal in the 33rd minute off a free kick, which wound up locking up a shocking victory. Lambert now has 13 goals this Premier League.
Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool: A-
Even in a frustrating loss, Coutinho continues to amaze. The 20-year-old winger has been nothing short of fantastic this season and his goal gave Liverpool hope—for a short time at least.
Brad Jones, Liverpool: C+
He was not done any favors whatsoever by the Liverpool defense, but allowing three goals isn’t getting anyone a good grade. Jones still made eight saves, certainly not making his performance fail-worthy, but Reds fans will be disappointed for a reason.