Darwin Nunez netted twice as Liverpool ended a disappointing first part of the season with victory over Southampton.
Robert Firmino opened the scoring after six minutes when he glanced Andrew Robertson’s free kick past Gavin Bazunu.
But the lead lasted just three minutes before, following another set-piece, James Ward-Prowse found Che Adams who beat Alisson Becker to the ball to head home.
The home advantage was restored when a brilliant diagonal ball from Harvey Elliott set up Darwin Nunez to steer home and three minutes before the break the Uruguayan had a second when he slotted home Robertson’s low ball from the left flank.
Alisson Becker was the busier goalkeeper in the second half but victory never really seemed in doubt for Liverpool who, temporarily at least, move up to sixth and a point away from a Champions League spot. Southampton slip to second-bottom.
Will Elliott get England call? – If James Maddison’s injury is as bad as it looked when he left the field at the London Stadium today, Gareth Southgate will have to call up a replacement for the England squad and the two contenders might have been playing here at Anfield. Whereas James Ward-Prowse has more pedigree and exhibited his qualities as England’s best dead-ball specialist when he curled in a dangerous free kick for Che Adams’ goal, Harvey Elliott was the more impressive overall. His ability to pick a pass was perfectly shown with Darwin Nunez’s second goal, a delicate 15-yard diagonal scoop over the defence which not many players would have been capable of. At 19, there will be more chances for Elliott you would think but this could yet be his time now.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Darwin Nunez (Liverpool) – Hailed as a great signing in pre-season then an awful one after a few goalless games, the Uruguayan goes into the World Cup with a respectable five goals in ten games (three of which were substitute appearances). He linked superbly with Mohammed Salah and Robert Firmino throughout their time on the field together giving hope for more to come from the new Liverpool trio after Christmas. Before then he could well dazzle in another tremendous triumvirate with Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
LiverpooI: Alisson 7; Alexander-Arnold 6, Gomez 6, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 8; Fabinho 6, Elliott 7, Thiago 6; Firmino 7; Salah 6, Darwin Nunez 8*.
Subs: Milner 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Tsimikas 6, Carvalho 6, Phillips 6.
Southampton: Bazunu 6; Caleta-Car 5, Bella-Kotchap 6, Salisu 6, Perraud 6; Ward-Prowse 6, Lavia 6; S Armstrong 6, Elyounoussi 7; Adams, 7, A Armstrong 6.
Subs: Walcott 6, Edozie 7, Maitland-Niles 6, Lyanco 6, Aribo 6.
6′ GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! A free kick from the right flank from Robertson is flicked at goal from fully 15 yards from Firmino but Bazunu is slow to go down and cannot keep the ball from crossing the line.
9′ GOAL FOR SOUTHAMPTON! Adams gets the Saints back on level terms. A fine set piece from Ward-Prowse from the left flank which Adams gets to before Alisson and heads home from six yards out.
16′ GREAT SAVE FROM BAZUNU! Nunez put in a fine cross from the left flank and it looked like Salah was going to put the Reds back in front but the Saints stopper made himself big and denied the striker from six yards out.
21′ GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! The most delicate of diagonal balls from Elliott finds Nunez in the left hand side of the area and he guides the ball first time inside the far post.
42′ GOAL FOR LIVERPOOL! Nunez gets his second. Firmino slides the ball inside the right back and then a fine low cross from Robertson is tucked home calmly by the Uruguayan striker.
63′ GREAT CHANCE FOR EDOZIE! He and Adams exchange passes in the area but the young substitute’s effort is blocked by Alisson.