Sports Football 26 Jan 2017 Southampton stun Liv ...

Southampton stun Liverpool to reach EFL Cup final

AP
Published Jan 26, 2017, 11:33 am IST
Updated Jan 26, 2017, 11:37 am IST
Shane Long scored in injury time to give Southampton a 2-0 aggregate win over Liverpool in the semifinals of the EFL Cup.
Southampton manager Claude Puel (L) celebrates after Shane Long's goal. (Photo: AP)
 Southampton manager Claude Puel (L) celebrates after Shane Long's goal. (Photo: AP)

Liverpool: Liverpool's season is in danger of unraveling after Jurgen Klopp's team missed out on a place in the English League Cup final following a 1-0 loss to Southampton at Anfield on Wednesday.

Substitute Shane Long scored on the counterattack in injury time to seal a 2-0 aggregate win in the semifinals for Southampton, who reached the final of English football's second-tier cup competition for a second time.

 

Manchester United, who lead Hull 2-0 after the first leg of the other semifinal, are the likely opponents at the showpiece at Wembley Stadium next month. For Liverpool, though, the chances of silverware this season are diminishing by the week.

On Saturday, the Reds' title hopes in the Premier League took a huge hit with a 3-2 loss at home to Swansea, which dropped them to fourth in the standings and 10 points behind leaders Chelsea. A loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday - when Klopp is set to play a weakened team - and Liverpool may have to wait another season to win a trophy.

 

In 2017, Liverpool have won just one of seven games - and that was an FA Cup replay at fourth-tier Plymouth.

"If we would doubt the way we are after these little, little problems we have now, it would be a really strange thing," Klopp said. "We don't have the points or results that we want, but we know what we want to do. Tonight it didn't happen, but it was a really good performance."

Having said that, Klopp accepted that Southampton was the deserved winner.

Leading 1-0 after a dominant display in the first leg two weeks ago, Southampton came to Anfield with problems in central defence following Jose Fonte's recent departure to West Ham and an injury to star player Virgil van Dijk.

 

A makeshift partnership of youngster Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida was thrown together and the pair excelled in bitterly cold conditions, stifling the Premier League's most prolific attack. The 22-year-old Stephens particularly stood out on only his fourth start for the club, reading the game well and looking assured in possession in the biggest game of his career.

When Liverpool did force openings, Daniel Sturridge twice volleyed over from close range and Philippe Coutinho - on the day he signed a new long-term contract - miskicked on the volley.

 

Then, moments after substitute Divock Origi was denied a penalty following an attempted tackle by Stephens, Southampton broke downfield through Josh Sims, who played in Long at the end of a 70-yard run. Long took one touch and buried his shot past Loris Karius from an angle, right in front of the visiting fans.

There was no way back for Liverpool and Southampton can now look forward to playing in their first cup final since 2003 - when they lost in the FA Cup to Arsenal at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The Saints lost the 1979 League Cup final to Nottingham Forest and have only one major trophy to their name, the 1976 FA Cup after beating Manchester United.

 

"Now we go to Wembley," Southampton manager Claude Puel said, "not just to participate, but to win this cup."

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