Mauricio Pellegrino lamented Saints’ slow start following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool, Roberto Firmino's sixth-minute strike an early setback that proved too large to overcome at St Mary’s.
Firmino put the away side in front before Mohamed Salah doubled the advantage and took the game beyond the hosts just before half-time.
“It was a pity to concede so early after a mistake like this,” he said. “You have to be perfect against teams like Liverpool; we reacted well, playing our best football of the afternoon following the goal and had a couple of clear chances to score.
“After the second goal, it was very difficult for us to bounce back and come out again stronger for the second half.”
Guido Carrillo and James Ward-Prowse both spurned presentable headed opportunities with the score at 1-0 but it was the hosts’ failure to threaten Lorius Karius in the Reds goal after the interval that disappointed the Argentinian the most.
“We have lost against an excellent team but our character after the break needed to be different.
“It’s disappointing because this was a very important game coming at the end of a period of six or seven weeks in which we’ve been improving.
“The most important thing is to react on the pitch and not focus on where we are in the table or anything off the field. We have to think one game at a time and keep going.
“We have to be strong in character, show our spirit and be patient in our approach.”