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Thiago Alcantara gets first Liverpool goal to help sink Southampton

Thiago Alcantara scored his first Liverpool goal as they claimed a 2-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

Liverpool halted a three-game winless run thanks to Sadio Mane’s header in the 31st minute and Thiago’s strike late on. The win keeps them in the hunt for a European place with four games of their season remaining. They weren’t at their best for the entire match but got the job done.

Liverpool changed both their centre-backs from the draw with Newcastle two weeks ago. Fabinho moved back into midfield and Ozan Kabak dropped out of the lineup, with Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips instead starting at the back. Striker Roberto Firmino also dropped to the bench.

Southampton had been in action more recently and made two changes to the team that had held Leicester last weekend. Takumi Minamino was ineligible against his parent club, so Theo Walcott came in. In addition, Fraser Forster replaced Alex McCarthy in goal.

Liverpool have taken many players from Southampton over the years and it was one of them who had their first shot. Mane was slightly off balance as he took aim, though, and fired over.

Mane should have had another chance when playing the ball to Mohamed Salah in the box. However, rather than pulling it back for his teammate, Salah tried to shoot from a tight angle and saw his effort blocked.

The next chance came when, after receiving a long pass from Andy Robertson, Mane backheeled the ball for Diogo Jota to run onto. The latter’s effort was turned behind.

At the other end, Southampton were sniffing and Alisson had to use his body to block an attempt from Che Adams at close range.

Liverpool took it as a wake-up call, and went in front less than a minute later. This time, Salah did pick out Mane with a fine left-footed cross, with the latter climbing to head it home his first Premier League goal at Anfield in 2021.

Sadio Mane

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Salah should have made it two when he got in behind, but Southampton got enough bodies back to prevent him.

Southampton sent a reminder that they were still in it when Nathan Tella headed a cross into Alisson’s palms just before the break.

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Tempo slows in second half

With the first chance of the second half, Jota forced a save from Forster from a wide angle. From the resulting corner, Phillips was unable to head it goalward.

The tempo of the match dropped afterwards, with Liverpool looking to stay in control.

Alisson had to be alert to the danger, though, when he snuffed out Michael Obafemi.

In front of the empty Kop, the ball then fell to Salah, but he took a touch, which reduced his space, and was unable to cause danger with his shot.

Liverpool relied on their goalkeeper again when Obafemi headed the ball down for Ibrahima Diallo, who struck it on the half volley only to see Alisson save.

But the Brazilian was nearly left red-faced when he tried to play out from the back and gave it to Adams. He made amends by saving the Southampton striker’s resulting shot.

Mane thought he had doubled the lead when he volleyed home Robertson’s cross from close range. However, he was offside, so the scoreline remained 1-0.

A second goal did come in the last minute, though – and it was through an unlikely source. Thiago hasn’t contributed to many goals since his arrival but produced a calm finish to pick out the bottom corner. It gave Liverpool a cushion and rounded out the win.

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