The Premier League title race is going to the wire and remarkably, an unprecedented quadruple is still on for Liverpool.
Tired and hit by injuries after winning the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday, Liverpool fielded a second-choice line-up against Southampton and demonstrated a great mentality to come from behind to win 2-1 on Tuesday.
It leaves Juergen Klopp’s team one point behind Manchester City heading into the final round of a thrilling league campaign. That’s on Sunday, when Liverpool are at home to Wolverhampton at the same time as City hosts Aston Villa — managed by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard.
“Whatever happens this season, we have done ourselves proud,” Liverpool midfielder James Milner said.
“All we could do is take it to the last game and we’ve done that.”
City remain the favourites in their bid for a sixth league title in 11 seasons, but Liverpool have done their part by taking the defending champions all the way.
In fact, the Reds are taking every competition to the final game this season, with a Champions League decider against Real Madrid still to come on May 28. They’ve already won both domestic cups in a season for the ages.
Joel Matip completed Liverpool’s latest comeback by unwittingly heading home the winning goal in the 67th minute at St. Mary’s Stadium.
Klopp’s team had also come from behind in their previous two league games, a 2-1 win against Villa and a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
“We keep going,” Klopp said.
“We never give up. That’s how it is.”
The game came only three days after Liverpool’s energy-sapping penalty shootout triumph over Chelsea. Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk were injured at Wembley Stadium and didn’t travel to Southampton. Fabinho was already injured while Andrew Robertson and Luis Diaz were unused substitutes.
Despite the slew of changes, Liverpool dominated a passive Saints team with nothing left to play for this season but still fell behind in the 13th minute when a Nathan Redmond shot deflected off Milner and into the far corner.
Liverpool’s players kept their composure and replied 14 minutes later when Diogo Jota laid the ball off to Takumi Minamino, who displayed quick feet before firing a rising shot inside Alex McCarthy’s near post.
The rest of the match saw Liverpool camped inside Southampton’s half. The atmosphere was starting to get tense when the Reds were gifted what proved to be the winning goal.
A Kostas Tsimikas corner skimmed off Mohamed Elyounoussi’s and then Kyle Walker-Peters’ head, hit the forehead of Matip and rebounded into the far corner beyond McCarthy’s despairing dive.
Liverpool were 14 points behind City at one point in January, and the title is still within reach with 90 minutes left to play. And Gerrard, who never won the league with Liverpool as a player, could yet have a decisive role in helping his former team win it this time.
“If we said in January it would go to the last game, we would have taken that,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said.
“Hopefully Stevie and Villa do us a favor.”
|Position||Team||Points||Games played||Goal difference|
Monday, May 22
Liverpool vs Wolves – 1am AEST
Manchester City vs Aston Villa – 1am AEST
In the unlikely event that both teams finish on points, goal difference and goals scored there will be a one-game playoff to decide the title.