Jurgen Klopp joked that Adrian’s mistake during Liverpool‘s 2-1 win over Southampton was a rite of passage.
The Spanish goalkeeper overcame an ankle injury suffered when a pitch invader slid into him during the celebrations of their Super Cup win against Chelsea in Istanbul on Wednesday to take his place in the side at St Mary’s.
But after Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino goals had put Liverpool in control, he handed Southampton a lifeline as he dallied on a backpass which was charged down by Danny Ings and ended up in the back of the net.
The Reds had to hang on in the end, recording a club-record 11th successive Premier League victory and making light of their midweek jaunt to Turkey, where they played 120 minutes and did not arrive back home until 4am on Thursday.
Adrian has been thrust into Klopp’s side after an injury to first choice Allison, who made a similar mistake in his first few months at the club last season.
And the German said it was only right that Adrian made an error.
“Minute 83, Adrian thought, ‘I’ve played really well so I have to make a mistake like Alli did’ and kept the game a little bit open,” he said.
“I said to him, ‘Finally, it arrived, welcome’. Alli did the same, obviously it is a goalie thing at Liverpool. I have no problem with that as long as we win the game.
“Adrian had a swollen ankle, we played too many balls back to him in that period. I was happy with everything he did today, all the saves he made, all the other stuff.
“He is good with his feet and if you would have seen his ankle on Thursday when we left the plane then you would say that pass for the goal was better than you would have expected. It is all fine.
“He had a clearing session at 10am and I got the message that he was fine. If I got the message that he wasn’t fine then I would have had a decision to make.
“He said at breakfast that he was fine and we had to test it.”
Liverpool’s hectic schedule looked like catching up with them in the first half as Southampton were the better side and had two fine chances to lead through Maya Yoshida and Che Adams.
But Mane’s clinical strike in first-half stoppage time put them in front and then Firmino doubled the lead in the 71st minute after a host of other chances went begging.
Adrian’s error allowed the hosts back into it and then Ings should have delivered the ultimate penalty to his former club, but he somehow missed from four yards.
Klopp insists his side’s midweek exertions had nothing to do with their afternoon on the south coast.
“Southampton is a good team. They defend well, they had good counter attacks, good organisation,” he said.
“This afternoon it was difficult again, nothing to do with the game midweek. I said before the game if we had come here with two weeks’ preparation it would have been difficult.
“I liked the game a lot. It is not allowed to think too much about Wednesday but I know it, so I was really impressed with how fresh we looked, at the start especially, just how good we were.
“We deserved to win.”
Ings will have nightmares about his miss when he goes to bed and so will boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, whose side have now lost their opening two games.
“We stayed in and tried to come back into the game and at 2-1 we could feel there was hope for everybody,” he said.
“Ingsy scored once but could be the big hero for us, the second chance to miss was unbelievable. We had three men in the box at that moment and we couldn’t get the ball over the line and that was a real pity.
“The guys for what they invested today they maybe deserved one point, but we didn’t get it. It’s tough to take.
“After the first half it was hard to take, but I think we haven’t been so bad. We had big chances to score. We stressed them very early, we tried to give them high pressure and we didn’t give a lot of chances away.
“That is the difference, a player like Mane in such a moment with all of his quality and then you are one down.”
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After Saints missed a couple of chances, the Reds went in front on the stroke of half-time when Mane curled a superb effort into the top corner against his former club.
Firmino added a second 19 minutes from time before ex-Liverpool striker Danny Ings profited from a mistake by Adrian, who was fit enough to start despite an ankle issue, to set up a nervy finish.
Here are three talking points from St Mary’s.
INDIVIDUAL QUALITY MATTERS
If there is one trait Liverpool have developed over the last 12 months, it’s that they are merciless.
Take the game as a whole, and Jurgen Klopp’s men did not merit three points at St Mary’s.
The difference was in the details. Southampton in the first half were far better as Liverpool’s exhausting exploits on Wednesday in the Super Cup extended to Saturday.
A lethargy infected the Reds and Southampton needed no invitation to feed off their inertia, charging high up the pitch and forcing the visitor’s into imprecision on the ball.
For large parts of the opening half, Liverpool struggled to get out of their own half as the front three was left completely isolated.
But during this period of dominance, Southampton did not have any tangible success. Maya Yoshida was denied by Adrian’s superb close-range stop after heading James Ward-Prowse’s delicious corner.
There was panic in the box when Ryan Bertrand’s dangerous low cross pinged across the area as Adrian feathered the ball into a swarm of Southampton attackers, while striker Che Adams also had a sight of goal only to head over.
All that was missing was a touch of quality and Liverpool have exactly that. It takes only a moment for it to be effective.
In tight space on the left, a series of one-touch passes between Andy Robertson, James Milner and Mane opened Southampton up and the Senegalese shifted inside to unleash a gorgeous strike into the far corner.
It was a ruthless passage of play right before half-time. After the break, Southampton’s press lost steam and as their energy levels dropped, the opportunity to prosper narrowed.
Liverpool went on the hunt and Firmino’s quality also told, his drilled effort killing the game off. Or so they thought…
ADRIAN’S ROCKY MOMENT
Jurgen Klopp was hailing back-up goalkeeper Adrian’s “Rocky moment” after his Super Cup heroics.
On Saturday, there were plenty more rocky moments, only this time, the Spaniard’s new colleagues were left screaming in pure anger.
Naturally, the focus of their vex will zero in on the howler which let Southampton back into the game. It’s a scenario which has played out hundreds of times with Alisson, the defender in possession finding no route forward and turning to start again from the keeper. Virgil van Dijk calmly played it back to Adrian from the left, the goalkeeper was unrushed and effortlessly passed it into his own net off Ings.
It wasn’t the first sedate moment either with Adrian very fortunate in the first-half when Ward-Prowse mirrored Ings only for the ball to go harmlessly out for a goalkick.
His distribution was generally quite poor, a passing accuracy of 75.9 percent more than five percent down on Alisson’s average in 2018/19.
However, the Brazilian too had his own faux pas early on last season against Leicester and perhaps Adrian should be afforded the same grace he was, especially considering the mistake didn’t effect the points haul.
OX IS ACTUALLY LIKE A NEW SIGNING
Liverpool fans spent the summer in a meltdown and it had nothing to do with the temperature outside.
Indeed, the club’s inactivity in the transfer window left many anxious going into the new season and that wasn’t aided by Klopp labelling Alex Oxalde-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana as “like new signings”.
Although supporters’ ire can be forgiven in regards to the latter, in Oxlade-Chamberlain’s case it’s a legitimate assessment.
The 26-year-old was excellent on Saturday. Emboldened in the middle three after an unsuccessful outing in the front trio on Wednesday, the England international gave Liverpool a drive through the middle which has been missed.
In the first minute, he bounded through the centre with bowling-ball-like qualities, carrying possession to the edge of Southampton’s box and slipping in Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right to create an opening.
There was a superb piece of combination play with Salah which ended with a sumptuous first-time cross from the right byline.
He created chances and stopped them too, covering for Alexander-Arnold after the right-back was caught out high up the opposite end with Oxlade-Chamberlain walling in Nathan Redmond to shut down an avenue to goal.
The former Arsenal man was explosive in pockets and tidy with his passing as well, a total contrast to the rest of Liverpool’s midfield.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has criticised the behaviour of a pitch invader after an accidental collision with Adrian left the goalkeeper with an ankle injury and a doubt for the trip to Southampton.
Adrian marked his first start for the Reds with the decisive save from Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham in the Super Cup final penalty shootout on Wednesday, but as he celebrated with his team-mates, a supporter slid into the Spaniard.
The 32-year-old summer signing is deputising for Alisson Becker, sidelined for a number of weeks because of a calf complaint, meaning Klopp may be forced to deploy 35-year-old third-choice Andy Lonergan on Saturday.
When asked whether the former West Ham shot-stopper’s shootout heroics in Istanbul would boost his confidence, Klopp responded: “It would help him a lot if it would be 100 per cent clear he can play tomorrow.
“A supporter jumped over something, was chased by some security guys, slipped and kicked his ankle. It’s crazy.
“There’s no doubt about how much we love our fans but if they could all stop doing that. We played against City, somebody was running on the pitch? And Norwich there was someone as well.
“The girl in the Champions League final made money from it, I don’t know what you can do against it.
“I like the fact that we don’t have the fences in the stadiums but that means there is a lot of responsibility for the supporters as well.
“If the one person cannot hesitate or stop himself then the people around should do it. It’s not funny. It’s crazy, you see it and you think ‘wow, how can something like this happen?’”
Videos on social media showed a fan slipping into a group of huddled-together Liverpool players after being grabbed by a steward. UEFA confirmed to the PA news agency it was in contact with Liverpool over the matter, but had no further comments to make at this stage.
Elaborating on Adrian’s ankle, Klopp added: “Yesterday it was swollen, today I spoke to him and he said ‘it’s much better than yesterday’ but we have to see.
“He will not go for a scan. It went down already. You can imagine you have that and you fly four hours back and it doesn’t help swelling, so he couldn’t have played directly after we landed in Liverpool.
“But I saw him now, it’s OK and it looks better. But a decision will be made tomorrow, no chance to make it earlier.”
Alisson’s injury prompted Liverpool to sign Lonergan on a short-term contract, the former Preston, Leeds and Bolton goalkeeper having trained with the Merseysiders over the summer.
Asked whether Lonergan would be ready to step in, Klopp responded: “Yeah. (Caoimhin) Kelleher is now in training as well, so we have them. If we have to make a decision, we have to make a decision.”
Klopp, who will definitely be without midfielder Naby Keita because of a muscle strain, refused to be drawn on his side’s demanding schedule, with their visit to the south coast coming three days after the Super Cup final in Turkey.
He added: “My plan when I heard about the fixtures was to win on Wednesday, to win on Saturday and to speak about it after that because if you speak about it earlier, it sounds you’re looking for excuses. I don’t, we don’t, it’s like it is.
“Was it right that we played on Friday and Chelsea on Sunday? No. The other things we cannot change.
“We cannot change these things, we have no power, absolutely nil power. We only have to accept it like it is and that’s what we do.”
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