Liverpool moved to within two points of fourth place in the Premier League, courtesy of a hard fought victory over Southampton at St Mary’s.
A stunning goal from Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling’s 10th goal of the season was enough to earn the Reds a crucial three points in the race for Champions League football.
In a frantic first 45 minutes, the Reds managed just one attempt on goal – but what an attempt it proved to be.
Southampton fans were already frustrated with referee Kevin Friend, who refused to award the home side a penalty when Emre Can made minimal contact with Filip Djuricic after just 20 seconds.
Two minutes later the Reds were in front, when Philippe Coutinho let fly from 30 yards with a stunning curling shot that went in off the underside of the crossbar.
The goal was the Brazilian’s fourth of the season in all competitions, and the 12th of his Liverpool career.
Southampton almost responded immediatley, and again the home fans were left fuming with the referee’s failure to award a spot kick. Joe Allen seemed to bring down Djuricic, whilst Simon Mignolet was on hand to produce a crucial block with his foot after the ball fell to Graziano Pelle after the challenge.
Liverpool had their own appeal for a penalty turned down, when Jose Fonte appeared to take Sterling out in the box – although replays indicated the Southampton skipper made contact with the ball first.
Yet more controversy followed before half time, when Mignolet came rushing to the edge of his box to block an attempted lob by Eljero Elia. The Belgian has been a much improved performer in recent weeks, and did well to block the initial shot with his chest before seeing the ball deflect onto his arm.
Rodgers introduced Alberto Moreno at half time in place of Lazar Markovic, with the Reds seemingly intent on tightening things up at the back. Southampton barely threatened in the second half, with Martin Skrtel particularly outstanding in the centre of the Reds defence.
Whilst Moreno was brought in with defensive duties in mind, the Spaniard played his part in the second goal on 73 minutes. His low cross was poorly cleared by Saints left back Matt Targett, and Raheem Sterling was on hand to bury his tenth goal of the season via a slight deflection.
Mignolet was called into action just once more, holding onto a free kick from substitute Duran Tadic, which bounced awkwardly on the slippery pitch.
The result also saw the Reds make it five consecutive away clean sheets, something the club has not achieved for 30 years. With this being arguably the finest defensive display of the season so far, it was fitting the result created a piece of Premier League history for Brendan Rodgers side, who continue their impressive momentum in the hunt for Champions League football.