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Southampton will hope that they are not left to rue missed opportunities as the Saints will take a narrow 1-0 lead back with them to Anfield in their League Cup semi-final second leg. Southampton won the first leg at the St. Mary's Stadium thanks to Nathan Redmond's 20th minute goal, but really should be out of sight in this tie after having had chances galore to put the tie to bed against a Liverpool side that just didn't turn up.
Both teams made changes galore to the sides that took to the field in the FA Cup tie at the weekend, but it was Southampton that looked the more settled as the game wore on, despite been on a terrible recent run of results.
The first real chance of the game fell to Liverpool, and in truth it was their only real opportunity of note in the contest as Roberto Firmino's left footed snapshot from Adam Lallana's cushioned header forced Southampton keeper Fraser Forster into a smart save.
The Reds dominated possession but did little with the ball as Southampton cut them apart repeatedly on the counter attack. The Saints' first chance fell to Redmond, who found space on the left hand channel and was denied only by an excellent save with his legs by the much maligned Loris Karius, who rushed out to close the Southampton forward.
Wandering around the pitch, there was no stopping Redmond's next effort though as a failed clearance by Ragnar Klavan allowed the Englishman to get behind the Liverpool defence, who were busy appealing for a non-existent offside as the forward slipped his shot past Karius.
Redmond was again denied from making it 2-0 in favour of the hosts, this time by an acrobatic right handed save by Karius right on the stroke of half time as some good interplay between Ryan Bertrand and Dusan Tadic allowed the latter to slip the ball in space to Redmond right across the Reds' 6 yard box, but Redmond's well struck left footed effort failed to beat the keeper.
The second half was not quite as open as the first with neither side creating too many clear cut scoring opportunities. Liverpool did throw on the returning Philippe Coutinho for Wijnaldum on the hour mark to try and influence the game, but even the Brazilian's charisma failed to create any openings of note for the Reds.
Southampton had a chance on the break to give them what would have been a deserving three goal cushion as Redmond released the overlapping Cedric, but the Portuguese full back went for glory instead of putting in a cross for Jay Rodriguez, who would have surely had a tap in at the far post.
The chances kept coming for the Saints with a slip from Lucas allowing substitute Shane Long to drive into the box. The Irishman's cross for Redmond left the youngster with a tight angle to finish from, and his deft chip over Karius beat the German keeper, but came back off the underside of the bar to save Liverpool from going another goal down.
Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp was a relieved man to be leaving Southampton just a goal down and shared after the game, "We needed Loris Karius to save our lives two or three times. The best thing for us is the result. We know that we can play better at Anfield - nothing is decided. We cannot be happy with the performance, Southampton cannot be happy with the result. It could and should have been 2-0, 3-0."
Southampton boss Claude Puel meanwhile said, "Liverpool had just the one chance all game. We were unlucky at the end because we know Liverpool away in the second leg will be very difficult. This competition is exciting, now it is important to keep the good concentration for the Premier League. We lost three games so it is important to have a good reaction."
Puel though will take hope from his excellent record against Liverpool, having never lost a game against the Reds in four outings, and if he can make that five at Anfield on 25th January, Southampton will be through to the League Cup Final.
Both teams return to Premier League action at the weekend with Liverpool heading to Old Trafford for the small matter of a clash with arch rivals Manchester United, while Southampton will try to keep the winning momentum going away to Burnley.
Southampton: Forster, Cédric, van Dijk, Yoshida, Bertrand, Clasie (Højbjerg 73'), Romeu, Davis (Ward-Prowse 82'), Tadić, Redmond, Rodriguez (Long 82').
Liverpool: Karius, Clyne, Lovren, Klavan, Milner, Lucas, Can, Wijnaldum (Coutinho 61'), Lallana, Sturridge. Firmino (Origi 83')
Final Score: Southampton 1-0 Liverpool (Redmond 20')
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