Sadio inspires stunning Southampton comeback in 3-2 win to deal Liverpool's Top 4 hopes a huge blow
Southampton (UK): Sadio Mane inspired Southampton's dramatic, late comeback as Ronald Koeman's side recovered from a two-goal deficit to rock Liverpool with a 3-2 win yesterday.
Southampton's midfielder Sadio Mane (right) celebrates with teammate Shane Long after scoring his team's third goal during their EPL match against Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, England yesterday. Pic/AFP
The Reds had taken a half-time lead at St Mary's through goals from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge and remained in control after Mane saw a 49th minute penalty saved by Simon Mignolet.
But Southampton got a foothold in the game when Senegal winger Mane got one back in the 64th minute. Graziano Pelle levelled the scores in the 84th minute before setting up Mane to complete the remarkable comeback two minutes later.
Liverpool had started the day with hopes of claiming a fourth successive Premier League victory and boosting their hopes of staging a late challenge for a Champions League place.
Southampton eye Euro berth
They ended it ninth place and facing a battle to claim a spot in next season's Europa League, while Southampton are now firmly in the hunt for a European berth.
Jurgen Klopp's side overcame an early scare when referee Roger East took a lenient view when Saints striker Shane Long was sent tumbling inside the Liverpool area after a push from Dejan Lovren.
A Virgil van Dijk header flew narrowly wide and Pelle shot over when he should have tested Liverpool keeper Mignolet as Klopp's side struggled to gain a foothold in the game. Klopp mood was eased when Southampton demonstrated they were equally vulnerable and gifted Liverpool the chance to take control of the game.
Perhaps fuelled by their success at making early inroads against their opponents, Southampton pressed forward, leaving gaps at the back that were ruthlessly exploited by a succession of Liverpool breaks.
First, Philippe Coutinho exposed the space left behind Saints right-back Cuco Martina in the 17th minute, surging forward before cutting inside and curling a right foot shot inside the far post. Southampton keeper Fraser Forster was slow to react having been left unsighted but should have done much better.
Liverpool's shaky defence
The home side attempted to respond quickly but were caught out again five minutes later, with Divock Origi this time leading the charge against an undermanned defence.
The Belgian played the ball to his striker partner Sturridge who placed his shot between Ryan Bertrand and Jose Fonte and inside the far post.
Unsurprisingly Koeman made a double change at half-time, introducing Mane and Victor Wanyama for Jordy Clasie and Dusan Tadic, while Klopp brought on Martin Skrtel for Lovren.
Skrtel was guilty of pulling Pelle to the ground as the forward attempted to reach Steven Davis's pass and this time the referee pointed to the spot.
Mane was entrusted with the responsibility of bringing Southampton back into the game but saw his penalty well saved by Mignolet. The forward went some way towards making amends when he finally beat Mignolet with a goal in the 64th minute.
Southampton continued to press and were level in the 83rd minute when Pelle beat Mignolet with a superb 20 yard drive. With Liverpool falling apart, Italy forward Pelle set up Mane for the sensational winner three minutes later.