SOUTHAMPTON 1-2 LIVERPOOL: Joel Matip’s deflected header was as scrappy as they come but it was a priceless goal all the same to give us one final, nail biting chapter of this incredible battle
And so this incredible title race does go to the final day of the season.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp rolled the dice by making nine changes and yet still came up trumps as they refuse to give up on their unlikely quadruple.
Joel Matip’s deflected header was as scrappy as they come but it was a priceless goal all the same to give us one final, nail biting chapter of this incredible battle.
Manchester City’s task is simple as they will be crowned champions if they beat Aston Villa and yet Liverpool’s win at St Mary’s at least keeps them in the hunt if Pep Guardiola’s men do slip up.
What is remarkable is that Liverpool, having already won the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, still find enough energy to keep going until the bitter end even in the 61st game of their marathon season.
They had to dig really deep, they had to come from behind but, just three days after lifting the FA Cup following extra time and penalties, they found a second wind to go again.
Southampton’s DJ even joined in by playing Meatloaf’s Two Out of Three Aint Bad at half time which came soon after he gave the stadium a quick blast of The Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen.
Humour is alive and well as the PA system managed to make a point at the Liverpool fans who booed the national anthem at Wembley on Saturday.
Southampton also refused to roll over and let Liverpool have it all their own way as you can be sure Guardiola and his Manchester City players would be watching at home and praying for an upset.
Defeat for Liverpool at St Mary’s and the title was City’s which made Klopp’s gamble even more remarkable but they need some rest somewhere as they play Wolves at Anfield on Sunday and still have the small matter of the Champions League final on Saturday week.
Liverpool keeper Alisson and Ibrahima Konate were the only survivors from Wembley while Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane did not even make the squad.
The risk looked to have backfired early on as they played like strangers and went behind after 13 minutes when the Saints gave Klopp’s men an alright scare.
Nathan Redmond race forward, cut in from the left and then unleashed a right footed screamer which flew in courtesy of a deflection off James Milner which took the ball past Alisson and into the top corner.
Now it felt Liverpool’s slim title chances had suddenly got even slimmer. But even though this was a second string line-up, they still showed as much determination and fight as the big guns.
Back they roared, Liverpool dominated possession and piled on the pressure. Roberto Firmino’s header had the away end celebrating until an offside flag went up. But they did not have to wait much longer for an equaliser.
Joe Gomez began the move as he played the ball down the line into Diogo Jota, his flick set up Takumi Minamino and the Liverpool forward who had a spell on loan at Southampton, smashed a shot past Saints keeper Alex McCarthy at his near post.
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Gomez’s night ended early as he limped off at half time, Jordan Henderson came on and James Milner switched to right back while the visitors chased a winner as twice Jota missed a big chance.
But finally it arrived after 67 minutes. Kostas Tsimikas’ corner was unwittingly flicked on by Southampton’s Mohamed Elyounoussi, Matip headed it into the net thanks to a deflection off Kyle Walker-Peters.
That goal has taken us to the final day when, if this incredible battle is anything to go, there might yet be another late twist.