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MOTD: Southampton 1-6 Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge returned to Liverpool’s starting lineup in their Capital One Cup quarterfinal with Southampton, his first start since Brendan Rodgers’ final game in charge. The Englishman found the back of the net with his first shot off the back of injury and four minutes later, found the back of the net with his very next effort. “I said to him after the game, ‘Now I know what everybody is talking about,’” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp of his striker.
The same can be said of Klopp himself.
Just eight weeks into the manager’s tenure, Klopp has whipped the misfiring team he inherited into shape both in terms of energy and efficiency. Liverpool scored with each of their first six shots on target last night, from fourteen total efforts, whereas they only found the back of the net once from thirteen shots in Rodgers’ final game in charge.
Divock Origi had not scored in any of his first ten matches for Liverpool, but bagged a hat-trick tonight as The Reds mercilessly scythed apart Southampton in rampant fashion. Sturridge bagged their first on twenty-five minutes and got a second before Origi made it three on the brink of the half. He scored two more on the other side of the break and Jordan Ibe also got in on the act with a late volley.
Klopp made seven changes from the team that beat Swansea City at the weekend and perhaps he thought he might come under the cosh after Southampton went up only thirty-six seconds in. Connor Randall was embarrassed down the left by Dusan Tadic, who cut the ball back for Ryan Bertrand to curl a tantalizing ball towards the far post. Or maybe Klopp wished he had made one more change, as Sadio Mane kicked ahead of a complacent Alberto Moreno at the far post to smash a header home — Moreno would come off as a second-half substitute.
Liverpool spent the opening quarter hour adapting to this new-look team, with Adam Bogdan holding another header from Mane and Randall again being exposed by Tadic, earning an early caution. Steven Davis’ shot ballooned over the crossbar, but Liverpool’s engine was starting to rev.
Adam Lallana was booed at his old home (along with former Southampton centerback Dejan Lovren) but was more devastating tonight than we’ve seen him in a Liverpool shirt. After Sturridge tucked home Joe Allen’s long diagonal ball to put Liverpool level, Lallana started the move for the visitor’s go-ahead goal. Allen brought down an awkward ball with a little layoff to Emre Can, who cut the ball back into the middle and lofted a gorgeous ball over the top to the run of Sturridge, who caught the ball on the half volley to slide past Maarten Stekelenburg.
Klopp’s man-management skills also exuded in Origi’s excellence on the night. The Belgian forward got the slightest of touches on Moreno’s far-post volley from a corner to deflect the ball into the back of the net and then slammed Ibe’s through ball in off the crossbar in the sixty-eighth minute. Ibe himself volleyed past Stekelenburg from Moreno’s cross and Klopp gave Jordan Henderson, who was about to come on, a big bear hug on the sidelines.
Origi capped off the rout in the eighty-sixth minute with a powerful header from Brad Smith’s whipped cross. If this match is any sign of things to come, Klopp has already whipped up Liverpool into potential title contenders, too, and the sixth goal was just the icing on the cake. In his first eleven matches in charge at Anfield, Liverpool have only lost once and their performance tonight was reminiscent of a 4-1 drubbing of Manchester City at the Etihad and a 3-1 victory over Chelsea in London. On the road, they’ve scored fifteen goals, won four times and drawn once under Klopp.
Homepage photo credit: John Jones, via Flickr