Liverpool bagged their second win of the 2019-20 Premier League season on Saturday, beating Southampton 2-1 thanks to goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Mane opened the scoring at the end of a first half in which Saints were the better team but lacked efficiency in front of goal. The Reds improved after the break, and Firmino doubled the lead after 71 minutes. Danny Ings added some late excitement with a goal that came courtesy of an Adrian blunder, but Liverpool hung on for the win.
The Reds had little time to prepare for this fixture after beating Chelsea on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday.
The match got off to a fast start, with both teams looking to move the ball at pace. James Milner fired the first shot on goal, drawing a save from Angus Gunn, and Che Adams couldn't put enough on his effort to trouble Adrian thanks to fine work from Virgil van Dijk.
A clever backheel from Mohamed Salah set up Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after 13 minutes, but he fired wide, and Adams' angled drive was nearly turned in by multiple Saints players minutes later.
The hosts were not intimidated by the European champions, and Adrian had to be alert to deny Maya Yoshida's header.
Sports writer Neil Jones noted the stopper's struggles in the passing game were costing his team:
A clever run from Salah nearly yielded a big chance after 35 minutes, but the Egyptian made poor contact with his volley, sending the ball over the cross bar. Adams also missed high when he should have done better after finding space against Van Dijk.
Just before the break, Liverpool grabbed the lead thanks to a moment of magic from Mane. Milner played in the Senegalese, who glided past his man before blasting home with a great strike.
Saints pushed for an equaliser early in the second half, but a double block from Van Dijk meant Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg's shooting chance came to nothing.
A deflected effort from Milner after a tricky corner wrong-footed Gunn, but fortunately for the Southampton stopper, the ball ended up on the wrong side of the post. The goalkeeper had to be at his best just minutes later to deny Salah.
Liverpool, though, were much improved in attack after the break and bombarded Southampton's box with crosses in search for a second goal, with Firmino and Mane going close.
Ings almost scored against his former club on the other end of the pitch, but a second Reds goal seemed inevitable, and some sloppy play at the back saw Mane set up Firmino after 71 minutes. The Brazilian used clever footwork to create some space before doubling the advantage.
The second goal liberated the Reds, who found more chances through Mane. Gunn twice held the 27-year-old from adding to his tally, though.
Southampton also had their chances, mainly through Nathan Redmond, but it took a big mistake from Adrian to get them on the board. The goalkeeper had plenty of time to clear but waited too long and then kicked the ball straight at Ings, and it deflected into the net:
With seven minutes left, there was plenty of time for a late surge from the hosts.
Ings nearly pulled his side level after a great ball in from Yann Valery, but he made poor contact with the ball from just a few yards away. That would be their best chance at an equaliser, with the Reds defending their lead to the end.