Jürgen Klopp savoured a ‘really big’ win for Liverpool after two late goals sealed a comeback to defeat Southampton 3-1 at St Mary’s.
Having trailed to an early Shane Long strike, the visitors levelled before the interval through Naby Keita’s header and then ground their way to three points in the second half.
Mohamed Salah edged them ahead on 80 minutes with a solo effort on the counter-attack and Jordan Henderson confirmed victory with a close-range conversion.
The result lifted Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League and Klopp was delighted with the character displayed by his title-chasing side.
Read a transcript of the manager’s post-match press conference below…
On the resilience and determination of his team…
Yes – mentality, eh? It’s brilliant. We come here and we know Southampton are a really different side since Ralph was in. Everybody expects, and we need, three points. We knew how difficult that is. The set-up was 5-4-1, that means you play against nine. Our problem was we didn’t push up high enough in the last line; so we let Fabinho [be] around Long or Redmond instead of the two centre-halves. You saw each ball we played into the box and couldn’t finish it off was a [Southampton] counter-attack because they were then in better positions, and that made life a bit uncomfortable. They scored that goal, deserved, but after we adjusted or adapted a little bit to the situation, we were there – we won balls back, could play in better spaces, had our moments, had our chances and scored a goal. That’s really important and means ‘game on’ again.
Second half, they started again pretty lively, then I think they felt the intensity of the first half a little bit. We could bring on two very motivated and lively boys [Henderson and James Milner], I would say, and it helped a lot. They pushed the whole team, they do it in the dressing room and do it on the pitch. It was really good to see the influence of the two. And then we scored these two world-class goals. We won the ball and a counter-attack; you see 1-1 against Southampton and you score both goals from counter-attacks.
We had other moments where we were pretty much five, six or seven seconds in their box but they got the ball or the goalie made saves or whatever. The two goals we scored were simply world-class; a super goal from Mo, a super run, Bobby was so important to make the run – he couldn’t play it because the angle was not good but it was still important. A fantastic finish. And then Bobby again chasing the whole world pretty much, wins the ball, wins the one-on-one situation, super pass, 3-1.
It was of course close, but that was clear from the first second, I would say. Everybody who comes here in the future will feel that. It makes it even more satisfying and brilliant that we could win it – it’s really big for us.
On whether Salah’s goal was the definition of a great player…
It was never in doubt about being a great player from my side. It was [Premier League] goal No.50 I heard for Liverpool, that’s an incredible number. As a striker, you have chances and each striker is a human being – maybe you have better moments and less good moments. But he is pretty consistent, his physical things are always there. It’s normal, you have to adapt to the situation. He always stayed calm to deal with the situation. It’s only around us that it’s a big thing, we don’t really care about it. But it’s a nice moment for the first goal after a while, a really good moment.
On Henderson’s position further forward…
We spoke about that, he played there for England and looked really good. But he’s played incredible games for us as a No.6; we have other players who can play that position. How all midfielders are, they have to offer me things and then I make the line-up. How we did it today was fantastic. It was his first game for a while on that position and scoring a goal is a nice sign, absolutely.
On Keita’s first goal for the club….
They were all really happy for him in the dressing room, he had multiple hugs. At 1-1, because we wanted to win, it was not the goal, so all the boys obviously decided not to celebrate it like crazy because there was still a job to do. Still, a fantastic moment for a first goal. Naby had two difficult situations when he lost two balls in the beginning, but then he was in the game and helped us so much. In the second half he was there, he was there for the small passes, for closing the right spaces, passing in the right spaces, so that was then really good and helped him a lot for sure.
On the development of Southampton under Ralph Hasenhuttl…
Outstanding, outstanding. I said it before when we did the analysis, we thought they will be really tough. It’s clear, what they do they have different ways obviously, but against us it was clear they would set it up like they did today. This team is now brilliantly organised, they are really, really difficult to play against. They have good players in all positions. I am really happy for him, really happy for him, because he did it the hard way.
On Trent Alexander-Arnold’s substitution…
It was just we had Millie on the bench and the boy has played how many games for Liverpool, and 98 per cent of these games were brilliant. Tonight it was obviously not one of these nights, no problem, but we have then an option in Millie, so that’s why we did it. It was the same for Gini, exactly the same – if you have an option, you have to use it. The boys gave their everything, 100 per cent. Trent, we need him so much. He has decided games for us. Now the boy can get some treatment and he can go again.