LIVERPOOL: Southampton held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw on Sunday as Sadio Mane’s late goal denied Juergen Klopp his first victory since taking over as manager at Anfield.
Liverpool took the lead in the 78th minute when substitute Christian Benteke met a precise delivery from captain James Milner with a towering header.
But Mane bundled the ball in from close range after Gaston Ramirez headed James Ward-Prowse’s free kick across the Liverpool goal four minutes from full time. The draw puts Liverpool ninth on 14 points, with Southampton a place above on the same total but better goal difference.
Liverpool’s first-half display was full of the pressing from midfield which Klopp is known for, particularly in the early exchanges.
But Liverpool was toothless in attack. Southampton comfortably defended its own penalty area and reduced the hosts to shots from long range, while beginning to pose problems in attack as the half progressed.
Klopp responded by replacing striker Divock Origi, who started the game as Daniel Sturridge missed his third straight match due to a knee problem, with Benteke.
His presence galvanized the team and the atmosphere inside Anfield.
Liverpool appeared more urgent in attack, with Alberto Moreno frequently providing an outlet down the left but often failing to deliver an incisive final ball or apply a shot on target.
When the goal eventually came, it was created by the captain Milner, who collected a wayward pass from Nathaniel Clyne with his back to goal wide on the right. Southampton stood away and Milner swiveled, saw Benteke and whipped the ball onto his head.
As the ball hit the back of the net, a jubilant Klopp ran along the sideline, leapt up and punched the air but eight minutes later, he was standing on the spot looking bewildered.
Ramirez nodded Ward-Prowse’s searching free kick across the Liverpool goal and Mane, unnoticed at the back post by Liverpool’s defense, ran onto the ball and prodded it over the line.
It silenced Anfield, and Klopp felt the goal stunned his players, too.
“What I saw after the (Southampton) goal, maybe this is the problem,” Klopp said. “They were all so disappointed but this is football. You can receive goals. There was another chance but there was no belief there anymore, in their eyes.
“I told them there was no contact between the players in this moment, nobody was able to push, to say something positive.”
Liverpool has drawn all three of its matches under Klopp so far.
Southampton’s scorer Mane was sent off in added time for a second bookable offense.
“I scored a goal but it is more important to get points for my team, I think we played very good football,” Mane said. “I made two stupid fouls and I was sent off.”