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St. Mary's Stadium (ATT 32,017) 22nd January 2005 - Kick off 12:45 Ref: A Wiley

So'ton Southampton vs Liverpool Liverpool

So'ton 2

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Saints complete Reds' bad week

By Richard Jolly.   Last Updated: 22/01/05 2:40pm

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The worst week of Rafael Benitez's reign at Anfield ended in an ignominious defeat as Southampton beat Liverpool 2-0.

Liverpool were underwhelming against Manchester United, beaten at Burnley and now swept aside at St Mary's by first-half goals from David Prutton and Peter Crouch.

They earned Southampton just a third Premiership win of the season - one for each manager - and provided them with renewed optimism in their relegation battle.

For Benitez, however, the problems are mounting, a dismal display compounded by Sami Hyypia's hip injury. Before then, he may have been reflecting on the wisdom of splitting the central defensive partnership of Hyypia and Jamie Carragher.

The ageing Argentine Mauricio Pellegrino was found wanting for both Southampton goals while Stephen Warnock, brought in at left back, struggled to contain the marauding Prutton.

The midfielder was granted a more advanced role in the absence of the injured Kevin Phillips and rewarded Harry Redknapp's decision with the fifth-minute opener. Prutton picked the pocket of the ponderous Pellegrino, exchanged passes with Crouch and beat Jerzy Dudek from an acute angle.

Seventeen minutes later, the favour was returned. Prutton, found by Jamie Redknapp's precise pass, delivered the cross that the unmarked Crouch headed in for his third goal in as many games.

With his team as insipid as their reserves were at Turf Moor, a semi-fit Steven Gerrard struggled to rouse Liverpool; his was their first shot - miscued high over the bar - and the first that drew a save from Antti Niemi.

But, one week after he was upstaged by Roy Keane's midfield masterclass, Gerrard fared badly in comparison with a previous Liverpool captain: Jamie Redknapp, who provided a virtuouso display of passing in a deeper role shielding the other four Southampton midfielders.

Redknapp's defence-splitting ball sent Rory Delap scurrying clear for a wonderful chance to add a third. A tame finish went straight at Dudek, but Southampton, suddenly confident, were able to indulge themselves.

Anders Svensson and Delap combined to evade a series of would-be tacklers and Crouch swivelled to fire a shot at Dudek.

The otherwise unoccupied Niemi had to react quickly to block from Luis Garcia and his defence were busier after Benitez's half-time reshuffle.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle was introduced, but the main threat came from the spirited Milan Baros, who whistled two shots past Niemi's far post and Gerrard, whose thunderbolt of a free kick clipped the bar.

But Claus Lundekvam blocked bravely twice as Saints defendly solidly and, when a Liverpool comeback started to appear plausible, Redknapp brought on a fifth defender, Andreas Jakobsson.

As Liverpool were still troubled by the gangly figure of Crouch, a third Southampton goal seemed more likely. Prutton capped another lung-busting run with a half-volley into the sidenetting and Alan Wiley ignored the home fans' penalty appeals when substitute David Raven bundled Crouch out of the way.

But the two-goal winning margin still made it Saints' biggest Premiership win of the season as well as their most impressive performance; the absence of Nigel Quashie, the £2.1 million signing who was injured before he could make his debut, rendered irrelevant by Prutton and Redknapp.

Fourth from bottom remains their aim, fourth from top Liverpool's. But with Fernando Morientes muted and Luis Garcia utterly unconvincing, it was more Spanish Civil War than 'Rafalution' for them.

Click here for Southampton versus Liverpool player ratings

 

SouthamptonTeam NameLiverpool
2Goals0
6Shots on target ( Inc Goals )1
3Shots off Target (inc woodwork)9
2Blocked Shots1
6Corners Won3
11Total Fouls Conceded14
2Offsides2
1Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
52%Possession48%

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 33 77
2 Manchester City 34 67
3 Arsenal 33 67
4 Manchester United 34 65
5 Liverpool 33 58
6 Tottenham Hotspur 34 58
7 Southampton 34 57
8 Swansea City 34 50
9 Stoke City 34 47
10 Everton 34 44
11 West Ham United 34 44
12 Crystal Palace 34 42
13 West Bromwich Albion 34 37
14 Newcastle United 34 35
15 Aston Villa 34 32
16 Hull City 33 31
17 Leicester City 33 31
18 Sunderland 33 30
19 Queens Park Rangers 34 27
20 Burnley 34 26

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