Mohamed Salah broke a three-game goalless run for Liverpool as they brushed Southampton aside 3-0 at Anfield to win their opening six games for the first time in a Premier League season.
After Roberto Firmino's last-gasp strike against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, Liverpool have won all seven matches in a flying start to 2018-19 that leaves them two points clear of champions Manchester City.
Xherdan Shaqiri's shot deflected in off Wesley Hoedt for an early opener, with Joel Matip then heading in his first Anfield goal for Liverpool in a comfortable first half for Jurgen Klopp's side.
And the points were sealed shortly before the break when Salah tapped in after Shaqiri's free-kick hit the woodwork, although Virgil van Dijk's injury after the break marred the win for Klopp.
Shaqiri was making his first Liverpool start and the Switzerland star was involved in the opening goal in the 10th minute.
After a corner was cleared, Sadio Mane threaded a pass through to Shaqiri on the left wing and after he cut inside to shoot, his effort deflected in off first Shane Long and then Hoedt.
The lead was soon doubled, Matip rising at the back post to head home a right-wing Trent Alexander-Arnold corner won when Cedric Soares made a brilliant challenge to deny Salah.
Salah's form had been questioned in a rare dry spell but he poked in the third from point-blank range after Shaqiri's free-kick crashed against the underside of the crossbar.
Van Dijk was substituted shortly after the break, the world's most expensive defender holding his ribs, with Liverpool seemingly settling for three goals in a low-tempo second period, although Salah was denied a late second by the offside flag.
Liverpool march on
It may be too early to talk about title races but Liverpool's form is ominous. A seventh straight win in all competitions has shown their development from last term, but two meetings with Chelsea within the next week will offer a better indication of their progress than Southampton, who offered little. They are entrenched in the bottom half and will need to perform better than this flat showing to avoid a relegation battle.
Shaqiri takes chance to shine
A home game with Southampton was the ideal opportunity to hand Shaqiri his first start and he thrived in a lively opening 45 minutes. Involvement in two goals from a number 10 role showed the versatile former Stoke City man can be an asset for Liverpool, especially in the latter stages of the season when games mount up. Fans will hope his withdrawal at half-time was not due to injury.
Hughes tactics give Saints no hope
Southampton contrived to throw away a two-goal lead at home to Brighton and Hove Albion on Monday but their tactical plan at Anfield gave them little chance of getting even a point. Selecting Shane Long - who has scored twice since the start of last season - as a lone striker was a strange call from Mark Hughes when he had Charlie Austin on the bench. Southampton have failed to score in five Premier League games against Liverpool and they hardly created a chance, although not being able to pick in-form on-loan Liverpool striker Danny Ings restricted Hughes' attacking options.
Liverpool host Chelsea in the EFL Cup third round before seeking to extend their winning Premier League run against the same opposition at Stamford Bridge on Saturday - the same day the Saints travel to Wolves.
That concludes our commentary of the Premier League fixture between Liverpool and Southampton! We hope you enjoyed our commentary and see you all again soon!
Liverpool have a reprieve from the Premier League as they host Chelsea on Wednesday in the League Cup. Southampton are off until next weekend when they travel to Molineux to face Wolves.
From the 10th minute of the match, it was very apparent that Southampton were in for one of those days. Two of the three goals conceded were simply poor errors from Hughes’ defence, with the own goal and poor set-piece marking undoing the visitors. The loss condemns the Saints to their third loss in five matches and puts more pressure on Mark Hughes who has a very difficult upcoming fixture list.
The job was done in the first half for Jurgen Klopp’s side who didn’t need to add any in the second period of play to ensure a victory which sees them, at least overnight, in sole possession of first place in the Premier League. Liverpool had no issues slicing through the Southampton defence and creatively played through the wings which opened up acres of space in the centre of the pitch. It was a professional performance from the Reds who make it six wins from six.
90' + 2' FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 3-0 SOUTHAMPTON.
90' + 1' Austin has Southampton’s first strike at goal in the match, and Alisson beats it away with a punch and gives the Saints a late corner which is cleared immediately by Liverpool.
90' This is Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s 600th league game in charge in his career – his current record is P599 W295 D158 L146.
89' SALAH SCORES BUT IT’S OFFSIDE! After a number of whacks towards goal by Milner – the second of which is cleared off the line – Salah nicks in to tap the ball home once and for all, but the linesman raises his flag as the Egypt forward is clearly offside.
87' Milner clips it in for Salah but while the intention is a good one, the execution is not and Southampton can clear.
86' Vestergaard puts in a bad tackle on Salah from behind and gives Liverpool a set-piece in a dangerous area with less than five minutes to play.
84' Liverpool win a corner but it’s taken predictably short by Milner towards Alexander-Arnold. The full-back sprays a pass to Salah whose chipped delivery for Firmino is blocked immediately on the edge of the area. The deflection allows Robertson to storm in and have a crack from the volley, but he sails his chance high.
82' Perhaps Hughes’ final substitution could have come earlier in the match to give his side some hope of scoring, but it was not to be. The very nature of the substitution – a like for like switch – reveals the managers’ lack of faith in earning a result.
79' With 11 minutes to go, Mark Hughes makes his final substitution and takes out Shane Long for Charlie Austin.
76' Lemina hits a first-time pass to Long who barely even moved to attempt to get on the end of the delivery. This is extremely frustrating as Southampton are surely capable of higher quality football than this.
74' Milner passes down a blind alley for Long to intercept, but Matip’s pressure off his back forces the striker to put the ball out for a Liverpool throw-in. Even down three with time ticking away, there are no Southampton players in the Liverpool half.
72' Liverpool are passing in neat triangles now, not really looking to get forward and add to the lead, but sap away precious minutes from the match. There’s still 20 to play, but both teams are fairly convinced of the result by this stage.
70' Liverpool’s final substitution is in midfield, with Naby Keita entering the fray to replace Georginio Wijnaldum.
68' Long chases down a loose ball in the penalty area but gets beat to the punch by Matip who shields the ball out of play for a goal-kick.
66' The match has really slowed down of late, with Liverpool happy to claim the three points with a three-goal showing, and Saints seemingly ready for the bus ride home. Southampton continue to chase possession, but all they’re doing is tiring themselves out.
64' Almost 70 minutes into the match, and Southampton have yet to register a strike at Alisson’s goal. It has been that kind of afternoon for a Saints side that started the match with a shape not conducive to clawing back a deficit – and little has been done from the manager’s technical area to change that.
62' Liverpool pile on the pressure as a number of crosses come into the area from varying positions, with McCarthy’s decisive punch on Alexander-Arnold’s delivery enough to push Liverpool back and allow Southampton to come forward with the ball.
60' Cedric’s cross goes all the way to the back post where the only one waiting is Alexander-Arnold who picks up possession and has time to turn and look for his next pass.
58' Firmino looks to play Mane into the penalty area with a deceptive pass but Vestergaard is wise to the build-up and he intercepts with an outstretched leg.
56' Yellow card Mario Lemina
55' Substitution Oriol Romeu Vidal Jan Bednarek
52' Alexander-Arnold swings in a cross which is deflected by Hoedt into the path of both Salah and McCarthy. The goalkeeper wins the footrace after hesitating slightly, which allowed the Liverpool forward almost enough time to nick in and put it in for Liverpool’s fourth.
50' Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four Premier League games against Southampton – the Reds’ longest current run in the competition.
48' The substitution of Milner has changed Liverpool’s shape slightly, with Klopp reverting back to the 4-3-3 he employed against Spurs. Klopp seems happy with the lead and this move is seemingly to see out the victory and solidify the midfield.
46' James Milner is on to start the second half, replacing Xherdan Shaqiri.
46' Southampton look to overcome a three goal deficit as they kick-off the second half!
Southampton have done themselves no favours in the opening half. They have been exposed down the unprotected flanks by the pace of Mane and Salah and have been unable to take more space and force Klopp’s side to defend. In hindsight, Mark Hughes’ decision to play a single striker looks very odd, as Shane Long has had no service – probably because he’s been forced to act as a shield in his own half.
It’s been a comfortable half for Liverpool who went a goal up after 10 minutes thanks to a very poor Wesley Hoedt own goal. That gave the home side the confidence they needed and have since gone on to thoroughly dominate the first 45. The Reds doubled their lead after 20 minutes when Joel Matip took full advantage of a rare start to make his presence known from a corner. Liverpool’s third also came from a set-piece, when Shaqiri’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time struck the bar and allowed Salah to finish easily.
45' + 4' HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 3-0 SOUTHAMPTON.
45' + 3' SHAQIRI DOES THE WORK BUT SALAH GETS THE GOAL! Shaqiri’s inch-perfect left-footed curling free-kick smashes off the underside of the crossbar and bounces downwards, allowing the onrushing Salah to tap it in easily with the goalkeeper out of the way. 3-0!
45' + 2' Salah wins a free-kick outside the Southampton penalty area after Hoedt is deemed to have used too much force to win the ball back. Can Liverpool add a third before the half-time whistle?
45' + 1' Lemina loses the ball to a perfectly timed Mane slide tackle just outside the penalty area. The Senegal striker then turns towards goal and curls a shot on target which is directed towards the goalkeeper for an easy save.
44' Shaqiri’s centring pass for Salah is intercepted and cleared but only as far as Firmino who has a whack at it – forcing a wonderful save from McCarthy.
42' Bertrand finds Hojbjerg completely alone in the penalty area but the former Bayern Munich midfielder cannot get the ball out of his feet to hit a shot first-time at Alisson. The miscued effort gives Liverpool time to clear the ball from their box.
40' With five minutes left in the first half, it doesn’t look like Saints will get a confidence-boosting goal before the interval. It’s been routine for the home side so far who have been put under very little pressure.
38' The ball comes over-the-top for Firmino but Vestergaard gets a head on it. Unfortunately for the centre-back, his clearing nod hits the back of Firmino and falls to Salah in the penalty area. McCarthy is quickly off his line though and he beats the forward to the ball.
36' Shaqiri takes an in-swinging corner to the near post for Mane but his awkward header only finds the foot of a Southampton defender who boots it downfield to Alisson.
34' Oriol Romeu is, unsurprisingly, the first name taken by the match official today after the Saints midfielder’s terrible two-footed tackle on Henderson in midfield. It’s a deserved yellow.
33' Cedric puts a cross into the area, but it misses the heads of Long and Redmond in the penalty area. It falls to the back post for Targett, but his recycled ball is extremely poor and gives possession back to Liverpool.
31' Long, the Saints’ only recognised striker on the pitch is deep in his own half to help the rest of his side defend. Wijnaldum winds up and has an almighty crack at goal from outside the area but he balloons his effort over the crossbar.
29' Southampton cannot get a foothold in this match as Liverpool are confidently controlling the flow of the match. The Saints, on the rare occasion they win possession, do not have enough outlets to move forward and force the home side on their heels in defence. Redmond and Long are chasing shadows at the moment.
27' Hojbjerg gets the ball just outside the penalty area and looks to start something by having a hit at goal, but Van Dijk is in the perfect position to tap it away. He has had a fantastic opening 30 minutes against his former side who could really use his presence in defence in a match like this.
25' First Hoedt gives Liverpool the lead after a horrible own goal, and then Vestergaard gets out-battled by Matip on the Reds’ second. It will be a long night for the Southampton centre-backs who are being put under immense pressure by Klopp’s versatile attacking line-up.
23' Southampton have won just three of their 19 Premier League visits to Anfield (W3 D6 L10), their last victory coming in September 2013.
21' Trent Alexander-Arnold gets the assist as his set-piece delivery led to Matip's goal!
21' JOEL MATIP DOUBLES THE ADVANTAGE FROM THE CORNER! It’s a basic corner taken to the penalty spot and the Liverpool centre-back simply outfights Vestergaard to the aerial ball and nods his effort brilliantly past the goalkeeper! 2-0 Liverpool!
21' CEDRIC SAVES THE DAY! Salah’s one-two pass with Firmino gets the Egypt forward in front of McCarthy all alone, but Cedric comes out of nowhere to put in a wonderful slide tackle which puts the ball out for a corner and denies a sure goal!
20' Shaqiri falls to the ground while chasing a pass from Alexander-Arnold but the referee intelligently calls play-on as Firmino gets on the end of the pass and sends a ball across the face of goal for Salah, but the pass never arrives as a defender cuts out the danger.
18' There are appeals for a penalty as Redmond takes a tumble in the penalty area under the weight of the presence of Firmino. The Saints forward immediately looks to the match official who disagrees with his protestations and allows play to continue.
16' Hoedt attempts to clear the ball from danger but delivers the ball right to Alexander-Arnold on the right. Fortunately for Saints, the young full-back’s cross is poor and right into the gloves of the keeper.
14' It looks as though Southampton’s best chance at a goal will be via a set-piece. Hoedt and Vestergaard are both very physical defenders and quite aerially able, which could lead to danger from corner-kicks. Certainly Hoedt will be looking to make amends for his earlier error…
12' Southampton have a corner on the left and it's taken to Vestergaard who bullies his marker but puts his headed effort well-wide of the post!
10' IT’S THE PERFECT START FOR LIVERPOOL THANKS TO AN OWN GOAL! Mane keeps the attack alive after a poor corner and finds Shaqiri who cuts inside and curls a rather weak cross into the six-yard box which takes a nasty deflection and ricochets off Wesley Hoedt before getting past McCarthy in the Southampton goal! 1-0 to the home side!
10' Salah lays the ball off for Mane who sends a return pass to Salah via a little chip, but Vestergaard outmuscles the Liverpool striker and clears the ball for a corner-kick.
9' Targett flashes a low cross into the penalty area for Long whose run takes him just beyond Van Dijk. The experienced centre-back readjusts well and puts the ball out for a corner which is taken short and cleared for a Southampton throw.
7' Liverpool are controlling the match, recycling the ball in defence and looking for the openings further forward. Southampton’s formation is causing quite a bit of a blockade in midfield, though the Reds are finding joy down the exposed flanks.
5' Shaqiri delivers a ball into the box for Firmino but Soares is there to put the Brazil forward off and the ball rolls harmlessly out for a goal-kick. There should be some worry for Hughes on the sideline however as Shaqiri is constantly losing his marker and running free in the final third.
3' Salah looks to send Shaqiri through on goal but Hoedt comes across well to make the interception on the edge of the penalty area.
1' Liverpool get the match underway from the kick-off!
Mark Hughes also changes his formation, settling on a 3-5-1-1 after his 4-4-2 only managed a draw with Brighton on Monday. Mohamed Elyounoussi does not feature today and is replaced by Southampton youth product Matt Targett. The only other change is in midfield, where Oriol Romeu will look to shield the defence after being handed the start over Danny Ings.
Jurgen Klopp alters his team’s tactical set-up and will employ a 4-2-3-1 instead of the 4-3-3 used to beat Tottenham 2-1 a week ago. With the change in shape comes three personnel changes, one in each third of the pitch. In defence, Matip plays alongside Van Dijk in the heart of the defence, replacing Joe Gomez. James Milner is rested after putting in a man of the match performance against PSG midweek, and Henderson will re-enter the XI to dictate play. In attack, Keita will start the match on the bench, with Shaqiri looking to impress his new side.
Southampton Substitutes: Steven Davis, Charlie Austin, Stuart Armstrong, Maya Yoshida, Angus Gunn, Jan Bednarek, James Ward-Prowse.
Headlines include a first Premier League start for Liverpool for Xherdan Shaqiri, who replaces James Milner. Jürgen Klopp also brings in Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip in place of Daniel Sturridge and Joe Gomez.
Liverpool v Southampton
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Salah, Shaqiri, Mane, Firmino. Subs:Fabinho, Milner, Keita, Gomez, Sturridge, Moreno, Mignolet.
Southampton: McCarthy, Vestergaard, Hoedt, Bertrand, Cedric, Hojbjerg, Romeu, Lemina, Targett, Redmond, Long. Subs: Yoshida, Davis, Austin, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Gunn, Bednarek.
Referee: Paul Tierney.