Saints Stun Liverpool
16th March 3pm
Saints played host to a Liverpool side that had been in rampant form of late having scored 15 goals in their last four games. The visitors will have arrived with high hopes of beating a Saints side with just one win from their last eight games.
Saints made one change to the starting line-up with Nathaniel Clyne replacing Jose Fonte.Liverpool made two with Skrtel replacing Carragher and Allen replacing Lucas.
The game began with a Liverpool attack which won them a corner after Jack Cork blocked the attack. The corner was repulsed but we waited for the expected onslaught which we felt was coming.
Luke Shaw got Saints going with a good run forward and a great little cross which Ramirez caught on the volley forcing Brad Jones into his first save, The warning shot had been fired and a minute later Saints had taken the lead.
A flowing move which involved the entire front line, saw Lambert find Ramirez who crossed inside for Jay Rodriguez to neatly send a cushioned header down into the path of Morgan Schneiderlin who gleefully prodded the ball home from 6 yards.
1-0 to Saints and the onslaught was well and truly under way, but not maybe as had been expected. Still Saints pressed forward hurrying and harrying the Liverpool team into errors. Lallana sent over a cross to Ramirez which Skrtel headed away. Then moments later Lallana blasted over when in the clear.
Still the onslaught continued and a superb through ball set Lambert free one on one with Jones but he hesitated as the keeper rushed out and the chance was gone as Lambert shot straight at the keeper.
Liverpool were really struggling as Saints wing play tore gaping holes in their rear guard. Cork and Ramirez were unlocking their opponents for fun. The space allowed Rodriguez to flash a fierce drive at Jones, which the keeper did well to hold onto.
The Saints were attacking with a fervour but the second goal would not come and as much as they were clearly the better team. Then Saints saw Jos Hooiveld go off with an injury after starting the game superbly. Jose Fonte replaced him and Saints continued to press forward unabated with relentless energy.
The disappointment was short lived for the home side and we saw them double their lead on 33 minutes. Martin Skrtel fouled Rickie Lambert, and we saw Rickie drill a free-kick from 30 yards out which deflected off Sturridge in the four-man defensive wall and fly past Jones into the bottom right corner for 2-0.
Saints fans were deliriously ecstatic and the noise was almost over powering as we began to believe. Liverpool tried to respond and a Fonte lunge denied Daniel Agger an immediate response, before an exquisite Rodriguez snapshot flew inches wide at the other end.
Saints, buoyed by the second strike became more expressive in the final third with Lallana and Lambert linking up cleverly on the left flank, which almost drew another chance, but the visitors did just enough to clear their lines from the latter`s cross.
A matter of inches separated the home side from a third goal as Rodriguez fired wide with a shot on the turn, but Saints were grateful to Boruc soon after when he thwarted Coutinho with a low block just outside of the six yard box.
Then Lallana went close after good work from Ramirez before the joyful atmosphere was dented. Liverpool saw a Sturridge shot blocked but Coutinho pounced on the rebound to drill the ball home. The mood was definitely deflated as the referee blew for HT.
HT 2-1 but could have been so much better.
Joe Allen was replaced by Lucas Leiva in a first change for the visitors at the start of the new half, who got the match restarted in the sweeping rain. Liverpool began brightly and set about getting back into the game.
Artur Boruc did well to come for a searching cross and soon after Coutinho had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was correctly ruled out for offside. Gerrard then played in Sturridge but he shot wide.
With Liverpool finally looking the more dangerous Mauricio Pochettino made his second substitution as Steve Davis came on for Gaston Ramirez. The crowd stood to applaud the midfielder for the way he had played before settling down to watch the play resume.
Liverpool came close moments later when Lucas almost picked out Suarez who raced into the area after the ball, but Boruc rushed out quickly to deny the frontman.
The game became more even as Saints gradually regained their composure and chances became less frequent. With Saints beginning to look for more goals it was a worry that they might get caught on the break.
Slowly Saints regained the initiative and were soon back on the front foot with Shaw joining the attack and almost getting the better of Glen Johnson down the left side. Though unable to get in a cross he did force a corner of the England full back as the clock reached the hour mark.
The corner was cleared and a Lallana cross moments later was cleared by Skrtel. A quick break from Liverpool was halted by a foul on Saurez by Clyne. Saurez took aim and shot for goal but Boruc saved with ease.
With the game becoming more open we saw crosses from Lallana and Clyne cleared and at the other end, we saw Gerrard foiled by Boruc and a Downing cross was cleared by Fonte.
Nathaniel Clyne got the better of Jose Enrique to cross into the Liverpool box and though Skrtel missed the ball Johnston cleared to give Saints a corner. Then Skrtel fires a free kick into the Saints area which is cleared followed a Gerrard free kick saved well by Boruc.
The crowd was fully behind the team as they tried to lift them on to a deserved victory. Still we saw Liverpool press and Maya Yoshida cleared a corner before Boruc came out well to collect a cross from Sturridge.
Saints returned to the attack, where Skrtel made a vital interception to deny Lambert`s low cross from reaching Rodriguez inside the area. Then after Liverpool captain Gerrard saw a shot saved by Boruc Saints came close to netting their third.
Saints attacked fluently and Schneiderlin played Lallana in on goal. The midfielder took a neat touch to control the ball before his effort inside the box was cleared by Skrtel as his effort headed towards goal.
Then with the crowd holding it's breath Jay Rodriguez collected the ball in the centre circle and ran forward. Out pacing the Liverpool defence he ran on and smacked a fierce shot which Brad Jones did well to save, but Rodriguez was able to run onto the rebound and send the ball home.
The roar of delight quickly grew as the fans saw the ball hit the net and the last ten minutes was a cacophony of sound. After the goal both teams made their final change with Jordan Henderson brought on in place of Sturridge, whilst Saints withdrew Lallana for Guly inside the final six minutes of action.
Liverpool still tried to hit back and a Johnston cross was turned away well by Shaw conceding a corner. Guly was robbed twice as Liverpool pressed. Johnston crossed and Enrique shot wide. Then we saw Saurez foul Boruc and concede a free kick. Eventually he got booked for unsportsmanlike behaviour before Boruc sent the free kick long and into the Liverpool half.
The whistle was blown and Saints had beaten the mighty red machine.
Jay was superb in his link up play with Rickie Lambert and made a goal before scoring the decider.
The fact he played an unfit Joe Allen gave Saints a big hand at the start of the game.
If he hadn't sent on Guly he would have had a 9. Set the team up well and we saw how hard the team fought for him.