Southampton took care of business in the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final with Liverpool on Wednesday, winning 1-0.
Nathan Redmond gave the hosts an early and deserved lead, and Southampton pushed for more before half-time. The hosts also had the better chances after the break, but the score remained unchanged.
The two teams will meet again in the second leg at Anfield on Jan. 25.
As Liverpool's official Twitter account shared, both Loris Karius and Daniel Sturridge earned starts:
Liverpool FC @LFC
#LFC XI: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Firmino, Sturridge #SOULIV2017-1-11 18:30:48
The hosts started the match on the front foot, with Virgil van Dijk sending a searching ball for Redmond, who couldn't make his way through the defence. It was an early warning sign for the Reds, as the winger put together a great first half, tormenting his markers at seemingly every turn.
Karius had to make his first stop when a deflected cross caused some confusion inside the box, and Van Dijk made a strong block to deny Roberto Firmino. The Reds had more possession than Southampton; however, chances were few, and the hosts were comfortable.
Karius made a good intervention on a cross from Dusan Tadic, and Adam Lallana put Fraser Forster to work with an angled drive the goalkeeper made quick work of.
Redmond kept hassling the Liverpool defence, first drawing another save from Karius before taking advantage of a blunder from Ragnar Klavan to fire his team ahead in the 20th minute.
Per OptaJoe, it ended quite the goalless run:
15 – Nathan Redmond has ended a run of 15 games in all competitions without a goal for Southampton. Overdue.2017-1-11 20:08:17
Liverpool tried to respond by increasing the tempo of their passing, but Saints had little trouble shutting down their moves as soon as the ball came close to the box. Cedric Soares made a fine block on a shot from James Milner, and Lallana couldn't find a way through, either.
Sturridge barely saw the ball in the first half, while Redmond and Jay Rodriguez shone at the other end of the pitch. The latter nearly found a second goal when his deflected shot just missed the target.
Jordy Clasie was the next man to try his luck, firing a volley at Karius, and Redmond should have doubled his tally shortly before half-time, placing a shot too close to the German:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
When someone tells you Liverpool are only down a goal largely due to Loris Karius’ heroics. https://t.co/Sq2TPV9aZz2017-1-11 20:32:10
Saints had another good chance early in the second half, as Milner gave away a free-kick from a dangerous position but redeemed himself by blocking Tadic's effort.
Clasie and Tadic caused more problems after Lallana clumsily gave the ball away, and Klavan did well to snuff out a counter. Van Dijk moved past Sturridge and tried to threaten with a cross, but Karius was there to intervene once again.
Lallana tried his luck with a shot that flew wide, and he combined with Firmino shortly after to set up another chance, drawing a save from Forster.
Cedric should have sent a ball in for Rodriguez at the end of a brilliant counter, but he went for goal instead, finding only the side netting. Philippe Coutinho fired a shot over the bar after a good run from Nathaniel Clyne, and Rodriguez couldn't find the target shortly after, either.
Redmond was unlucky with minutes to spare, hitting the crossbar after another glorious counter, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg drew laughter from fans and pundits alike with one of the worst dives of the season.
Sam Tighe of Bleacher Report UK was amused:
Sam Tighe @stighefootball
Hojbjerg 😂😂😂 #sniper2017-1-11 21:26:42
Sturridge missed a solid chance at an equaliser, firing over and signalling the start of the Reds' final push. Coutinho was given space for a strike, and several crosses spelled trouble. But Saints held on, taking a one-goal lead into the second leg.
As shared by Anfield HQ, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp was brutally honest after the match:
Anfield HQ @AnfieldHQ
Klopp says "the best thing about tonight was the result" and admitted Southampton should have won by more.2017-1-11 22:07:24
Liverpool will host Saints in the return leg on Jan. 25.