Liverpool Home EFL Cup Semi Final First Leg Won 1 – 0
Southampton didn’t consider the unsettled Fonte for selection for the EFL Cup game against Liverpool, which seemed a self-imposed handicap as well as calling the player’s professional attitude into question. In addition, and like Morocco, they are again without Boufal through injury, but otherwise the starting team looked to be the strongest possible (and as they don’t seem to play together very often, it’s worth remembering who they are: Forster; Soares, Van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand; Redmond, Clasie, Davis, Romeu, Tadić; Rodriguez). Unfortunately the visitors also fielded a strong line-up, and the game began just as the League encounter had ensued between the clubs – Saints struggling both to get and retain possession as the Reds looked dangerous when ganging up on Soares, although in this game their best opening came through Firmino on the other flank, with Forster forced to save well. Almost immediately Saints carved out an opening of their own, but Redmond had switched flanks and was forced to delay his effort by getting the ball onto his right foot, and Karius was able to save with his boot. I’m sure this can’t possibly be true, but was as though the team collectively then decided to forego their usual safety first instructions and give this game their best shot, come what may. Whatever and why ever, it was a turning point and Saints took the lead with their next attack, Redmond this time finishing nicely when put clear by Rodriguez. All of a sudden it was Liverpool who were being harassed into errors, and Redmond was denied by Karius as half time approached. At last there was a performance to enjoy at St. Mary’s as Saints continued their good work after the break. Coutinho’s return after injury was delayed until the game was an hour old, but he wasn’t wearing his shooting boots and his team were looking increasingly vulnerable to breakaways. An exhilarating move down the right ended with Soares putting an excellent opportunity into the side netting, but the ‘what if…’ moment came just after Long came on for Rodriguez: the Singing Irishman left Lucas Leiva for dead on the left and picked out Redmond unmarked at the far post, but his dink over Karius came down off the bar and was cleared by Lovren when it could easily have bounced in off desperately retreating defenders. Still, 1-0 was a first leg result that any Saints fan would surely have taken, with Redmond becoming only the second man to score in Southampton in a League Cup semi final.
LSSC Man of the Match: Oriol Romeu – just about the best of a hard working bunch, although Van Dijk was at his dominant best as well.