Southampton fell to a second Premier League defeat in succession, as their Anfield woes continued with a 4-0 loss at the hands of Liverpool.
Having been beaten on their previous four visits to the home of the Reds, each without scoring, Saints’ unfortunate streak continued, as they were subjected to a ruthless display from Jürgen Klopp’s high-flying side.
The damage began to be inflicted inside two minutes, as Diogo Jota scored the first of his two goals, with his second strike being followed by a deflected Thiago effort before the half-time whistle was blown.
And there was limited respite for Saints after the break, as Virgil van Dijk netted against his former club to complete the scoring.
There were three changes for Saints from the side that lost 2-1 at Norwich last time out, as Ralph Hasenhüttl gave Lyanco a full Premier League debut and restored Romain Perraud and Armando Broja, with Kyle Walker-Peters and Ibrahima Diallo dropping to the bench and Mohamed Elyounoussi missing from the matchday squad.
That meant a switch to three centre-backs, while Broja joined Adam Armstrong and Ché Adams in attack, as the trio started together for the first time.
On the other side of the dugout, Klopp made six changes, as he brought back van Dijk, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Jota, Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold, after either resting them or limiting their workload in the midweek Champions League win over Porto.In only the second minute, two of those players would combine to give Liverpool the lead.Jota had gone close moments before, streaking away down the middle and cutting onto his left foot on the edge of the box, only to see Jan Bednarek block his shot, but Liverpool quickly recycled the ball out to the left, where Sadio Mané slipped a brilliant pass into Robertson near the byline and he squared for Jota to side-foot past Alex McCarthy.It was a nightmare start for Saints, but they did almost level two minutes later.After receiving a short goal-kick, van Dijk rolled a pass to Thiago 20 yards out, but he dallied on the ball and had it poked free and back towards the area by James Ward-Prowse. It became a straight race between the Saints captain and Alisson as to who would get there first, but it was the Liverpool keeper who just won, diving at the feet of Ward-Prowse to avert the danger.In the 12th minute, Bednarek became the first player into the book, for a foul on Mané, and, from the resulting free-kick deep on the left, the Liverpool forward thought he had doubled the lead, as he angled a brilliant header back across goal from Robertson’s delivery. However, the former Saints man had started his run a little early and was flagged offside, with VAR confirming the decision.It wasn’t long until the Reds again went close to a second, as Mohamed Salah bent a shot from the corner of the area just wide of the far post in the 17th minute.While it felt perhaps only a matter of time before the hosts did strike again, it was Southampton who created the next big opportunity, as a slack throw-in from Alexander-Arnold back towards Ibrahima Konaté didn’t have enough on it and allowed Broja to get there first, flick the ball past the defender and race towards goal down the left. He did well to hold off the attention of Konaté from there, but that allowed Alisson enough scope to get into a good position to smother the striker’s eventual effort.
Having come close to equalising, Saints then did fall two behind on 32 minutes, as Jota grabbed his second of the game. It came from a brilliant exchange of passes between Salah and Henderson, resulting in the former being played into space inside the area and squaring for his teammate to tap into an empty net.Two became three on 37 minutes, as Thiago added another, albeit with a big slice of fortune.An angled Salah delivery into the area was headed clear by Adams, but Thiago pounced on it, pushed towards the edge of the box and sent in a left-footed strike that deflected off the out-stretched leg of Lyanco and flew into the top corner, giving the wrong-footed McCarthy no chance.Saints did almost pull one back in the final minute of the half, as a quick break resulted in Tino Livramento finding Armstrong in space inside the area, but his low shot was turned round the post by Alisson.Hasenhüttl used the break to make two changes, sending on Nathan Redmond and Nathan Tella, in place of Bednarek and Adams, as the Saints boss changed shape to a back four.
The flow of the game didn’t alter much, though, and McCarthy was called upon on 52 minutes to make a flying stop from Mané’s 25-yard curler that was heading towards the far top corner.
However, it only staved off a fourth goal by mere seconds, as Liverpool scored from the resulting corner. Alexander-Arnold’s out-swinging delivery dropped to van Dijk just inside the box and he slammed a low, first-time strike past McCarthy.
Saints could have scored moments later, as Tella burst down the right and sent in a low cross that picked out Armstrong at the back post, but his first shot hit a sliding Konaté, before his effort from the rebound was turned wide at the near post by Alisson.
The game then settled into a prolonged quieter period, and it wasn’t until the 74th minute that another significant chance came along, Jota going close to a hat-trick, only to divert Robertson’s brilliant delivery across the face of goal high and wide with his out-stretched leg.
Salah then saw a good effort deflected wide by Mohammed Salisu, before McCarthy saved from substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as Liverpool mounted a late push for goal number five.Fortunately for Saints, it did not arrive, and they now head into a home double-header against Leicester City in midweek and then Brighton next Saturday, looking to get back to winning ways.