Gordon Strachan's lucky thirteenth match in charge saw his settled first eleven close Liverpool down, limiting their goalscoring chances. In fact, chances were at a minimum for both teams. A draw looked a strong possibility and Saints edged it from a penalty and a spectacular own goal from Riise.
Saints put out their normal 4-4-2 with Jones in goal, Dodd, Lundekvam, Williams and Bridge across the back. Midfield saw the only change with Delap deputising for Matthew Oakley who having just returned from injury was on the bench. Up front were the ever improving partnership of Pahars and Beattie.
4 minutes - Beattie's ball into the box is cleared by Henchoz for a corner. It's taken short and ocmes to nothing.
7- Delap's long throw level to the edge of the box is taken low down by Dudek on the half volley.
9- Dudek has to clear as Pahars chases down the passback.
10- Wright's long throw is easily cleared by Saints from a similar position to Delap's
Play is evenly distributed with neither side creating any chances.
11- Saints push up , Pahars going out left. The momentum is lost but Saints manage to get a freekick. Dudek has to punch it clear.
11- Anelka is clear through, but it takes it into the path of Paul Williams who tracks back well to clear.
13- Great run by Bridge down the left. He gets in an excellent cross. Marsden impedes Dudek for a Liverpool freekick.
16- Beattie and Pahars surge through the centre. Beattie's pass just a little under hit, falling a little behind Marian. Liverpool manage to close him down before he can return the ball to Beattie.
17- Delap gets wide on the right. The cross has only Marsden in the middle who has to take it out left. A suspicious backpass gets the ball back to Dudek.
20 - A lovely passing Liverpool move from the left gets the ball to Murphy in the Saints box. He tries to open up space for the shot but it deflects off a defender.
Liverpool have had the best two chances of the match so far although both teams are fairly evenly matched.
23- Liverpool are starting to dominate the possession.
24- A loose Liverpool pass puts Pahars through between the two centrebcks. Pahars takes it to the right inside the box in order to get the space for a shot. His effort comes off a defender and is cleared.
25- Dodd's cross in from the right falls to Svensson. The Swedish international can't get any decent contact on the ball for a shot.
26- Littmanen gets the ball into the box for Anelka. Lundekvam just manages to usher the ball out of play but he could have handled it better.
29- Anelka gets the better of Williams on the right, a single touch leaving Williams dead in the water. Anelka centres it and the shot loops up and almost over Jones, who has to tip it over the bar.
30- Liverpool get two corners, the second of which drops to Jones and Hyppia in the middle. Hyppia adjudged to have impeded Jones by simply standing in front of him.
31- Saints respond with a lovely passing move from right to left. Svensson passes it in front of Beattie in front of goal. Beattie stumbles but does manage to get a corner. Liverpool get it clear from the set piece.
33- Liverpool corner as Pahars concedes while tracking back. Saints clear well and have to clear again from Smicer's shot.
33- Delap picks up a calf strain and has to walk off.
34 - Substitution - Oakley on for Delap.
35- Anelka forces Jones into a on handed save. Another good bit of creative skill from Littmanan as his flick gets the ball to the Frenchman. Williams can't prevent the shot and looks second best to Anelka.
38 - Yellow Card for Carragher as he prevents Pahars from breaking down the right.
40- Bridge on the left passes to Pahrs. The Latvians cross just fails to get to Beattie in the box.
40- Liverpool respond with a good break from Limanan. The ex-Barca player seems to be playing a little deeper than I had expected. Having Anelka up front on his own gives the Saints defence some breathing space.
41- Telfer and Dodd link up well on the right but Beattie's final header is well wide.
Half Time Southampton 0-0 Liverpool
46- A sweeping ball in from the right almost reaches Beattie before Henchoz concedes a corner, which is yet another poor one from Telfer. I think Saints are trying to work more on their set pieces but there's still a long way to go.
49- Both sides are pressing the game and the pace has moved up a notch.
51- Bridge's freekick into the Liverpool box is easily picked up by the defence.
The game has a spell of play in the middle of the park. Both sides give a way the ball on numerous occassions looking to break forward.
56 - Substitution - Heskey comes on for Smicer, who was holding his back. Heskey goes out left where I've seen him play poorly before.
58- Oakley wins Saints a corner after a good run. Dodd makes a good pass to get him going.
59- Near Liverpool's right hand corner, Pahars expects a Telfer overlap which doesn't arrive. He does manage to get a corner. A scramble in the box sees the ball for for Marsden. He turns and shoots but is too close to Dudek and the ball goes straight to the Liverpool 'keeper.
61 - Oakley makes a late, fast run into the box. Hyppia reaches up to clear the ball but catches the Saints midfielder. Graham Poll has no hesitation in awarding the penalty.
James Beattie steps up to take it while I struggle to get my heart form my mouth. Dudek dives to his right but Beattie's shot is too well struck into the corner and Saints take the lead !
Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
Liverpool increase the pace looking for the equaliser.
66- Oakley gets the ball from Hamann. He has two runners but the ball fails to get past the chasing defenders. Oakley has made a big impact since coming on and reminds us why is is an important pick in the first eleven. Good vision and movement coupled with excellent passing skills and link up play.
67- Jones punches clear under little pressure from a Gerard throw. He sheepishly apologises to his defence. At least the ball is cleared.
67- Substitution Riise on for Wright as Liverpool increase their attacking options on the flanks.
68- Jones comes and clears the ball as it slows down just outside the Saints box.
69- Heskey touches the ball on to Murphy in the middle of the Saints box. Dodd deflects the ball clear and Pahars breaks up the left.
70- Pahars continues his run well into the Liverpool half. He decides to hold the ball up before releasing it into the middle. There's only Oakley there and the ball falls to the newly introduced Riise. Riise's header is a beautiful looping one, which will be practised by strikers across the land, which loops past the completely stranded Dudek and into the net.
Southampton 2-0 Liverpool
72- Bridge puts in a cross form the left side of midfield. Beattie slips enabling Riise to chest the ball back to Dudek.
73- Anelka's shot goes across the box 6 yards out. It beats everyone including the Liverpool player on the far side running in. A close call.
Despite being two goals up, I'm still waiting for things to go wrong. However, Saints are actually looking stronger as the game goes on and every player is pulling their wait defensively.
74- Williams clears Riise cross easily.
75- Hyppia's 30yard cross goes well high and wide
Substitution: Ormerod on for Pahars.
76- A dicey moment as ball falls between Williams and Jones. Hopefully Jones shouted as Williams should really have cleared it.
76- Gerrard's through ball to Litmannan's is cleared by Jones on the right side of the Saints box.
77 - Subsitution Murphy off for Berger as Liverpool pull out the stops in attack. Personally I think they are now lacking balance.
78- Williams closes Berger down well at the edge of the Saints box.
79- Ormerod makes a good run on the right. His cross goes straight to Dudek though.
80- Riise's freekick. Saints step up well, catching two Liverpool players offside. Heskey's shot hits the post and stays out anyway. Hopefully a sign that nothing will happen to prevent a Saints victory.
81- Hyppia deflects a Saints cross form the right, taking it from the head of Marsden.
82- A long Riise throw gets to the edge of the box. Liverpool try to pass it trying to find space for the shot. They're too narrow and Saints close them down superbly at this stage of the game.
87- Svensson takes the ball round the edge of the Liverpool box but his shot goes off a defender.
88- Heskey turns and shoots under pressure form the centre of the Southampton box. It goes high over the bar. Heskey has looked at his most dangerous when up front so I was quite happy to see him out left.
90- A very ambitious 40 yard effort from the left falls easily to Dudek.
90- Berger beats the Saints defence to the left and gets the ball to the impressive Litmannan. He can only scuff the shot wide, wasting Liverpool's best chance of the half.
Full Time : Southampton 2-0 Liverpool