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Saints hold out to deny Reds

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 20-11-2016

Getty © Provided by BSkyB Getty Getty © Provided by BSkyB Getty

Liverpool failed to make their second-half dominance count as they were held to a goalless draw at Southampton on Saturday. 

Sadio Mane was brilliantly denied by Fraser Forster in the first half, but it was after the break that the Premier League leaders turned the screw.

Roberto Firmino and Nathaniel Clyne spurned the Reds' best opportunities, both failing to hit the target from good positions.

Liverpool have now been joined at the top of the table by Manchester City after they won at Crystal Palace, and both could be leapfrogged by Chelsea on Sunday if they beat Middlesbrough on Nissan Super Sunday.

Both teams were missing players injured on international duty - Adam Lallana out for Liverpool and Dusan Tadic not involved for Southampton.

But Philippe Coutinho was fit to start despite needing a scan after his return from Brazil and Sofiane Boufal made his first Premier League start for Southampton, who sat back and stifled the visitors in the early stages.

Liverpool had scored six last time out against Watford, but it took them until the 28th minute to create a clear opening, with Mane's first-time shot saved by Fraser Forster.

Virgil Van Dijk then made a brilliant recovery tackle to block an effort from Mane after he had being played through on goal while at the other end the hosts struggled to create chances, with Charlie Austin too often isolated when he did get the ball in promising positions.

After the break Southampton they were pinned back inside their own half and it took another superb last-ditch challenge, this time from Jose Fonte, to deny Coutinho, before Joel Matip almost turned in a free-kick.

The closest Saints came was in the 59th minute when Charlie Austin rose to meet Cedric Soares' cross but headed wide.

Liverpool continued to threaten with Emre Can missing the target with an effort from outside the box before Firmino poked wide from in front of goal after being played in by Coutinho.

Clyne then missed another good chance, heading across goal after positive play from substitute Daniel Sturridge.

With the rain hammering down, Liverpool's final chance fell to Firmino, but his shot from the edge of the box was palmed away by Forster.

Player ratings

Southampton: Forster (7), Cedric (6), Van Dijk (8), Fonte (7), Bertrand (6), Davis (5), Romeu (5), Hojbjerg (5), Boufal (5), Austin (6), Redmond (5).

Subs: Long (5), Rodriguez (5), Reed (5).

Liverpool: Karius (6), Clyne (7), Matip (6), Lovren (6), Milner (7), Wijnaldum (7), Henderson (6), Can (6), Mane (6), Firmino (6), Coutinho (6). 

Subs: Sturridge (6), Origi (5).

Man of the match: Virgil Van Dijk.

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