Liverpool win takes Premier League title race to the last day
And still there is hope for Liverpool.
A come-from-behind 2-1 win against Southampton on Tuesday night means Jurgen Klopp’s men have a chance of winning the English Premier League this weekend.
It is, as Klopp himself said after the match, “not likely but possible” as Manchester City, the league’s leader, is a point ahead and can secure a third title in four seasons if it beats Aston Villa at home Sunday.But Villa is managed by Liverpool’s celebrated former captain Steven Gerrard and playing a part in helping Liverpool secure its 20th top-flight title would be redemption for a man who never won the league with his hometown club. That would be the sort of fanciful story written by a Hollywood scriptwriter, but stranger things have happened in football.
After all, at the start of the year, Liverpool trailed City by 14 points — but 15 league victories and two draws in the league since January 15 have given the Reds a chance of a second title under Klopp.
“If I was in the other situation, then I don’t feel like I am champion already. From my point of view, in second, you are thinking that, of course, City will win that game. But it is football,” Klopp told reporters.
“So many things happen during this second part of the season. I think if we would become champions it would be deserved as well, but for that we have to win and then we have to see.”
Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson celebrates a crucial victory for his team.
Liverpool must focus on its next match, in beating Wolves at Anfield, and hope Villa plays its part in maintaining Klopp’s quest for the quadruple — securing all three domestic trophies and the Champions League.
It bodes well for Klopp that he made nine changes to the team which beat Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup final Sunday and still overcame Southampton away.
Takumi Minamino and Joel Matip scored for the Reds at St Mary’s after Nathan Redmond had given Southampton an early lead.
“I saw incredible performances,” said Klopp.
“I’m so happy about the performance. These boys. [It's] like having Ferraris in the garage and you let them out and they directly do it like this.”
Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse closes down Roberto Firminho.
Liverpool has two games remaining in what could be an incredible season. First, there is Wolves and then the Champions League final against Real Madrid at the end of the month.
Two trophies — the League Cup and FA Cup — already won, two possibly still to come.
SOUTHAMPTON, England — After a case of history repeating, Liverpool have earned the chance to find out if destiny is calling.
The Premier League title race will go to the final day of the season after Takumi Minamino and Joel Matip struck to overturn Nathan Redmond’s 13th-minute opener to ensure the Reds beat Southampton 2-1 here at St. Mary’s Stadium.
For the second time in seven days, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made a host of changes, watched his team fall behind before responding impressively to earn a deserved win on Tuesday. Last week it was Aston Villa, and although Southampton were much more culpable, this still felt like a stiffer test of Liverpool’s resolve, coming less than 72 hours after their marathon FA Cup final win over Chelsea on penalties, a draining exertion that prompted nine changes to Klopp’s starting lineup.
Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were missing as expected after picking up injuries at Wembley, but the sheer volume of absentees felt even greater than first feared: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mane were all left out completely while Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz were rotated onto the bench.
To perfectly encapsulate the madcap menagerie Klopp assembled for this task, James Milner began as a No. 6 with Harvey Elliott playing slightly ahead of him in midfield. It was the first time they had even been named in a starting lineup together, and Milner, 36, made his Premier League debut in November 2002, 145 days before Elliott was born.
Liverpool really are a team for the ages. The quadruple bid remains alive, albeit firmly in the balance with Manchester City holding a one-point advantage ahead of Sunday’s final round of matches.
“Making nine changes, if it hadn’t have worked out it would have been 1,000 percent my responsibility,” Klopp said. “Now it worked out and it is 1,000 percent the boys’ responsibility because I can ask for a lot, the boys have to do it. I thought they did exceptionally well, some incredible performances.
“Actually, I am so happy about the performance because it was a bit touching to be honest. Wow, these boys. Like having Ferraris in the garage and then you let them out and they directly go like this. Harvey, I’m not sure when he played last time, Curtis [Jones], no rhythm, Minamino, it is a crime he is not playing more often.
“It is really tough for the boys but whatever happens this year happens because of this group. It is exceptional and tonight they showed it again.”
Southampton offered a contest largely in name only. Redmond’s opening goal was a bolt out of the blue, a well-struck shot which benefitted both from a deflection of Milner and VAR’s decision not to revisit a foul by Lyanco on Jota in the build-up.
Minamino’s 27th-minute equaliser was the product of a fine move that began with Joe Gomez firing a ball into Jota, who laid it off to the Japan international to fire home his 10th goal of the season.
Minamino is something of a statistical curiosity in that he spent the second half of last season on loan at Southampton, starting nine Premier League matches, more than the five he has managed for Liverpool in almost two years since arriving from Red Bull Salzburg. Yet no other player has scored at least three goals in the League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup this season and, remarkably, Minamino was Liverpool’s top-scorer in the latter two competitions.
After Liverpool lost Gomez at the break to an ankle injury, Henderson came on with Milner switching to right-back but the pressure on Southampton’s goal was unchecked.
Matip may not have known much about the winner, coming as it did as he battled with Kyle Walker-Peters to head Kostas Tsimikas’ corner after Mohamed Elyounoussi’s inadvertent flick-on, but it was no less than Liverpool deserved on the night.
Southampton ended with an xG, or expected goals, of 0.14 from four shots, 29% possession and boos from the home crowd, many of whom showed what they thought of the planned “lap of appreciation” by immediately heading for the exits.
Arguably the most defiant resistance all night came from the stadium DJ, intent on several halftime swipes at the opposition. Three days on from Liverpool supporters booing the English national anthem and multiple members of the Royal Family, including Prince William, the interval playlist was particularly pointed. Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” was followed by Spin Doctors “Two Princes” and Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” It might yet be three out of four for Liverpool or, remarkably, all four after a precious win that keeps them in the hunt.