Southampton 3 Liverpool 1: Saints seven points clear of drop zone as Schneiderlin, Lambert and Rodriguez earn vital win

By Mark Ryan

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England manager Roy Hodgson watched his captain Steven Gerrard fail in the St Mary's rain, just days before important challenges on the road to Rio.

Goals from Morgan Schneiderlin, Rickie Lambert and the ever-dangerous Jay Rodriguez gave Saints genuine reason to believe they will stay in the top flight.

Sealed: Jay Rodriguez celebrates alongside Adam Lallana after sealing the win with 10 minutes to play

Sealed: Jay Rodriguez celebrates alongside Adam Lallana after sealing the win with 10 minutes to play

Big goal: Rickie Lambert salutes the St Mary's crowd after scoring the second goal

Big goal: Rickie Lambert salutes the St Mary's crowd after scoring the second goal

Curler: Southampton's lead was doubled by this Rickie Lambert free-kick

Curler: Southampton's lead was doubled by this Rickie Lambert free-kick

Nice one! Lambert gets a pat on the back by Jay Rodriguez after scoring

Nice one! Lambert gets a pat on the back by Jay Rodriguez after scoring

MATCH FACTS

Southampton: Boruc, Clyne, Yoshida, Hooiveld (Fonte 31), Shaw, Schneiderlin, Cork, Rodriguez, Ramirez (S Davis 55), Lallana (Do Prado 84), Lambert

Substitutes not used: Kelvin Davis, Forren, Ward-Prowse, Do Prado, Puncheon

Scorers: Schneiderlin 6, Lambert 33, Rodriguez 80

Liverpool: Jones, Johnson, Agger, Skrtel, Jose Enrique, Allen (Lucas 46), Downing, Gerrard, Coutinho, Suarez, Sturridge (Henderson 84)

Substitutes not used: Gulacsi, Suso, Shelvey, Ibe, Wisdom

Scorer: Coutinho 45

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire)

Attendance: 32,070

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But defeat seemed to end Liverpool's faint Champions League hopes. Only a smart piece of opportunism from Philippe Coutinho gave Liverpool fans anything to cheer. But by then the favourites were already two goals behind.

And apart from Gerrard's timely far-post header, which helped create that solitary strike just before half-time, Liverpool's talisman seemed strangely out of sorts.

Hodgson will have to inject some life, clarity and purpose into his key midfielder and team leader before England face San Marino on Friday and Montenegro the following week in two World Cup qualifiers.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was right to point out that no single player should shoulder the blame for a woeful performance.

'It was the team,' he said. 'Steven's been brilliant and his performance levels have been high. But today was just a poor day at the office for us.'

Saints looked more dynamic, hungry and well worth their margin of victory. 'I can assure you my team always go out and play with hunger,'

Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino said. 'I can't evaluate how hungry the other team are.'

Plenty to shout about: Schneiderlin celebrates his early goal

Plenty to shout about: Schneiderlin celebrates his early goal

Opener: Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones watches as Morgan Schneiderlin gives Southampton a sixth-minute lead

Opener: Liverpool goalkeeper Brad Jones watches as Morgan Schneiderlin gives Southampton a sixth-minute lead

Bottom of the Premier League table

Bottom of the Premier League table

From the moment Schneiderlin put the home side ahead in the sixth minute, Liverpool looked in serious trouble.

Gaston Ramirez floated a ball to the far post, where Rodriguez headed down for the oncoming Schneiderlin.

The finish with the outside of the boot was classy, Liverpool's inability to cut him off inexplicable. Liverpool's central midfield were in trouble, Gerrard caught between his duty to hold alongside Joe Allen and a natural inclination to advance.

Cutting the deficit: Phillipe Coutinho scores on the stroke of half-time for Liverpool

Cutting the deficit: Phillipe Coutinho scores on the stroke of half-time for Liverpool

Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates his goal

Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates his goal

'Steven has the license to go,' said Rodgers. 'But we didn't have a rhythm today and that was across the team.'

Saints enjoyed some luck when Lambert's 33rd-minute free-kick deflected off Daniel Sturridge's backside.

Chase is on: Southampton's Jack Cork in pursuit of Joe Allen

Chase is on: Southampton's Jack Cork in pursuit of Joe Allen

Foot in: Jay Rodriguez tries to steal the ball away from Jose Enrique

Foot in: Jay Rodriguez tries to steal the ball away from Jose Enrique

Brad Jones had no chance and the home side, supposedly struggling at the wrong end of the table, had a deserved reward.

Yet Coutinho did not give up and pounced to keep the match alive. We waited for a spectacular Liverpool comeback of the sort that kept a three-match winning run going until yesterday.

Aerial duel: Martin Skrtel and Jay Rodriguez tussle for the ball in the air

Aerial duel: Martin Skrtel and Jay Rodriguez tussle for the ball in the air

But it never came. Instead, Rodriguez danced his way through Liverpool's defence 10 minutes from time, did not worry when his first effort was saved and reacted first to tap in the rebound.

Pochettino said: 'We knew Liverpool's attacking threat would come through Gerrard, Coutinho and Luis Suarez and we neutralised that threat.'

When the final whistle blew, Gerrard bowed his head.

He had endured a miserable afternoon. England and Hodgson will have to trust in the great man's powers of recovery.

On the stretch: Gaston Ramirez gets a shot away under challenge from Jose Enrique

On the stretch: Gaston Ramirez gets a shot away under challenge from Jose Enrique

Protest: Liverpool supporters staged a demonstration against the price of watching football prior to kick-off at St Mary's

Protest: Liverpool supporters staged a demonstration against the price of watching football prior to kick-off at St Mary's

STEVEN GERRARD WATCH

Captain Steven Gerrard endured a difficult afternoon in the heart of Liverpool's midfield as his side were beaten 3-1 by Southampton at St Mary's. Here Press Association Sport's Matt Somerford analyses his performance.

Passing

Gerrard misplaced a number of passes in the opening half as Southampton quickly crowded him to limit his time, and Liverpool's effectiveness, on the ball.

After twice failing to locate Luis Suarez a rushed cross-field pass was easily intercepted by Gaston Ramires to set up a move that saw Jay Rodriguez fizz a shot just wide that would have made it 3-0.

Gerrard played his part in his side's goal just before half-time, though, playing a one-two with Suarez before rushing to the back post where his header created the confusion for Philippe Coutinho to score.

Frustrations: Steven Gerrard (centre), and Liverpool as a whole, endured a bad afternoon at St Marys

Frustrations: Steven Gerrard (centre), and Liverpool as a whole, endured a bad afternoon at St Marys

Movement

Gerrard perhaps could have tracked Morgan Schneiderlin for Southampton's early opener and had been subdued until his side's goal when his movement off the ball created the chance.

As a move he initiated developed down the right Gerrard sprinted to the back post. No Saints players marked him and it provided the outlet to switch play and open up the home defence.

Positional play

He spent the majority of the first period putting out fires deep in his half with Southampton dominating and his central midfield partner Joe Allen enduring a nightmare first 45 minutes.

When Allen was taken off at half-time his replacement Lucas was more willing to sit deeper to allow Gerrard to play closer to his strikers.

But as the game wore on and Liverpool tried for an equaliser his absence alongside Lucas was exposed as Rodriguez ran unopposed into the area to score.

Body language

Like a number of his team-mates he was strangely subdued for large parts although he threw his head back in frustration in the first half when Coutinho failed to locate him with a cutback after he burst into the area unopposed.

 
 
 
 

 
 


 

The comments below have not been moderated.

expertanswers, Chester, United Kingdom, 16/3/2013 20:42 This is a Liverpool article, so obviously Liverpool fans like myself are going to comment on their teams articles, I don't comment on United articles, good to see you aren't bitter about your youth, what's it like hating Liverpool more than you love United? - scouseboy , Dublin, Ireland, 18/3/2013 13:21....not about hating anybody I do not buy into hate for other teams...just more fun when they lose....this is payback for all scousers on United articles with their tired conspiracy theories United buy the refs, United own the FA, etc etc so giving a little back when mid table delusional team, manager and fans claim they are can still compete with the big boys...despite what you may think i have a healthy respect for LFC and their achievements...as for CFC and MCFC that is a different story....and another point one of my friends played for LFC and gets enough stick to last a lifetime...Mark Walters..so no hate

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Where is my comment?

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treblewinners1999, Manchester, 17/3/2013 23:18 If it was so much easier to win, why didn't you win it in 1957, or 1966, or retain in in 1969? Or were they were rare years when Glentoran & Finnish part-timers boasted formidable sides, makes no sense.

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expertanswers, Chester, United Kingdom, 16/3/2013 20:42 This is a Liverpool article, so obviously Liverpool fans like myself are going to comment on their teams articles, I don't comment on United articles, good to see you aren't bitter about your youth, what's it like hating Liverpool more than you love United?

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Jeez lose a game and all the play station managers are out in force giving us all the benefit of their undoubted wisdom!!!!!

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Every time Rogers and his aging group of has beens open their mouths and predict a top 4 finish, reality slaps them hard in the face. I hope Rogers stays for years, he's useless.

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cant wait for next season some quality additions we could challenge for europe ,need top clas goalie and potent finisher - anwicksaints, southampton, 17/3/2013 11:03 and a manager!!!

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some liverpool fans online are saying they could not believe they lost to a team who are not good enough to play in this league... how arrogant of you! you are a mid table team at best and we are back in the premier league where we belong - accept it and stop being such sore losers! thanks for the easy 3 points!

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Rodgers is a fool,he does not deserve to be lfc manager.Shame on him.He should be sacked,.He talks too much.Useless manager.He is the worst manager lfc has ever had conference league at the best.

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whats wrong with us..why sack Branden? sack him and do what? cmon he is trying to get a philosophy which most of our players are unawarre about...Soton played beautiful football and deserved their win thoroughly...lets give them the credit for a well deserved win and take this loss straight up on chin...we are a work in progress team and games like this make us realise there is a long way to go before we challenge for top honors...Spurs took almost took 3-4 seasons to get desired players and build a team which is playing well together...Man City poured in all money in the world and built a team which played with flair in the first season and is looking clueless this season...so what BR is doing at Liverpool is reasonable and his philosophy will fetch good results over a period of time..so if you can keep calm and support then support our beloved Liverpool or else go and support any team which buys instant success....YNWA

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