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Redmond gives Saints edge in EFL Cup tie

Press Association logoPress Association 11/01/2017 Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer

Southampton head to Liverpool in the driving seat after Nathan Redmond's strike secured a narrow victory in the League Cup semi-final first leg.

Jurgen Klopp's men finished runners-up in the competition last season and return to Anfield needing to overturn a 1-0 loss to the side they have raided for key players in recent years.

Redmond's first-half strike was the difference at a packed-out St Mary's, bringing a timely end to Southampton's four-match winless run in all competitions on their first appearance in the last four of a major competition since 2003.

Claude Puel's men rallied manfully after a sluggish start against the side second in the Premier League, with Redmond capitalising on Ragnar Klavan's mistake to coolly slot home.

Southampton looked to be in for a bleak evening as they struggled in the opening stages, defending deeply and struggling to find an attacking outlet.

Liverpool were exposing the fullbacks with ease as Puel's team started nervily, but Fraser Forster denied Roberto Firmino when the visitors eventually managed to turn that dominance into a clear-cut chance.

Jay Rodriguez was looking overwhelmed as Saints' focal point yet there was a flash of life in the 19th minute as Redmond collected a cross from the right and got away a shot that Loris Karius smothered well.

Redmond was caught out by the goalkeeper's reactions, but made amends within a minute as Klavan's inability to deal with a simple ball forwards cost his side.

Rodriguez was alert to capitalise on the hashed clearance, beating former teammate Dejan Lovren with a deft pass to put Redmond through and this time the 22-year-old did not falter, keeping his composure to direct past Karius.

That sucker punch after such a comfortable start threw Liverpool off kilter, failing to attack with any intensity before half-time.

Daniel Sturridge's claim that he was upended in the box when played resumed was ignored by referee Neil Swarbrick and Firmino saw a long-range effort stopped with ease, before Klopp turned to star man Philippe Coutinho.

Out since November 26 with an ankle injury, the Brazilian returned as a 61st-minute substitute in a bid to inspire the visiting side.

But the introduction of Coutinho was unable to inject much sustained attacking impetus to struggling Liverpool.

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