Daniel Sturridge’s late winner made all the difference as Liverpool got their Premier League campaign off on a winning note at home to Southampton on Sunday.
Following their summer exodus, the ‘Saints’ came up against striker defender Dejan Lovren and substitute Rickie Lambert at Anfield for the first time.
Luis Suarez’s exit to Barcelona for £75m was a missing tonic in Brendan Rodgers’ attack but Raheem Sterling and Sturridge answered all necessary questions, even after Nathaniel Clyne’s equaliser stretched the hosts’ luck far enough.
Southampton, in their first game without ex-manager and new Tottenham boss Mauricio Porchettino, threatened in the first-half with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet getting in a tangle with Graziano Pelle at the Ronald Koeman’s side’s first corner.
Despite playing a free-flowing football in the opening 20 minutes, Southampton were split open sooner than latter. A well-coordinated attack, started when midfielder Jordan Henderson robbed Dusan Tadic of possession, beat Morgan Schneiderlin, resulted to the Serb sending Sterling through with an adorable pass. Sterling kept his composure to slot past Fraser Forster.
James Ward-Prowse and Schneiderlin both sent Mignolet to claw and tip his opponents’ respective efforts from distance over the bar.
Koeman’s men’s search for an equaliser paid off ten minutes after the break when Clyne found Tadic on the edge of the box, evaded his markers and collected a sublime back-heel to beat Mignolet.
Steven Davis should have gotten the visitors ahead but his low shot from 12 yards was kept out by Mignolet.
Rodgers introduced Lambert to improve the strength of his attack, and Koeman responded by bringing on Shane Long.
Southampton never ceased threatening, however, lack of precision and some wrong decisions in the defence robbed them of a happy ending.
Sturridge closed out the contest in the closing ten minutes, after Southampton failed to clear a cross and Sterling found the English striker to touch home the winner.
Mignolet then tipped Schneiderlin’s shot onto the woodwork, with Long driving the rebound wide from six yards as Liverpool claimed an important three points.