Saints hold Liverpool as Milner penalty saved

Liverpool's James Milner (left) and Fraser Forster

Fraser Forster’s attempt to put James Milner off his stride prior to the penalty, appeared to work

James Milner missed a second-half penalty as Liverpool’s hopes of securing a Premier League top-four spot suffered a blip in a goalless draw against Southampton.

It was a terrible spectacle for the supporters inside Anfield. Liverpool rarely tested Saints keeper Fraser Forster, bar the penalty and Marko Grujic’s header late in the game. The visitors, meanwhile, failed to muster even one effort on target.

The Reds’ best chance to score came in the 66th minute when they won a penalty after Southampton’s Jack Stephens was judged to have handled Lucas’ delivery.

Milner, who had not missed from the spot in the league since November 2009, saw his effort saved by Forster who dived low to his right. Seconds earlier, the England keeper approached the midfielder as he attempted to place the ball on the spot – and the tactic seemed to work.

The draw sees the Reds move up to third, above Manchester City, on 70 points. However, Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand.

Manchester United remain five points behind after losing to Arsenal, who are two points further back.

Liverpool underwhelm in crucial period

Liverpool's efforts<!–

Most of Liverpool’s efforts came from outside the area

It was dire. Truly dire. Was the first half of this match the worst seen in the Premier League this season?

The home sections at Anfield must have thought they were in for a treat – the sun was shining and they knew their team had to take the game to Southampton with a Champions League spot at stake.

But instead of a siege on Forster’s goal, what they witnessed during that opening period were their players joining the Saints on the beach.

The first 45 minutes were slow and ponderous, and the only exertions by the Southampton keeper were three very comfortable saves.

The second half followed a similar pattern up until the penalty, which was a correct decision by referee Bobby Madley with the Stephens’ arm moving up to push the ball away.

However, Milner – who last missed a Premier League penalty playing for Aston Villa against Bolton – saw his effort saved by Forster. Was he put off his stride by the keeper confronting him moments earlier?

Forster kept his concentration right up until the final few minutes of the game when he reacted brilliantly to tip over substitute Grujic’s header.

The Reds have now played Southampton four times this season and failed to score against them.

Saints play on the back foot but get a point

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Southampton set up camp in their own half for most of the first 45 minutes

Southampton boss Claude Puel appeared somewhat surprised this week when he was asked about reports regarding his future.

It had been suggested that some players had become disillusioned with his style of management.

Their Premier League status was only made secure with Hull’s defeat on Saturday, and they came into the match on the back of two defeats and a draw.

At Anfield, the team must have bored their travelling fans into submission.

The graphic above shows that they mostly sat in their own half for the opening 45 minutes, and for the first time since they returned to the top flight in 2012 they failed to have a single effort in the first half of a match. An angled strike by Nathan Redmond in the second half was the closest they came to scoring – although it was a few yards wide.

Having been spoilt for entertainment when their team was managed by Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino, some Southampton fans must be wondering what type of football awaits them next season if Puel stays.

Man of the match – Fraser Forster (Southampton)

Fraser Forster<!–

There were not many contenders for man of the match, so the honour goes to the 6ft 7in keeper who made a great save to deny Milner and one near the end to prevent Grujic from scoring

‘Southampton did not create anything’

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: “I thought our performance was good enough to win. Southampton wanted to come here and somehow get a point, or more – I’m fine with defending.

“They did not create anything and we had a hard job to do. To play against 10 deep defending Southampton players is very difficult. We could have scored, that would have opened them up a bit. It is a point more, but it doesn’t feel like that.

“It is not finished yet. We all have to play our games. We go to West Ham and try to win, and that’s all we can do. We try everything and we do not stop.”

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Puel praises Saints discipline

Saints manager Claude Puel: “I think it was a fantastic job for us. We defended very well and with quality and good organisation.

“Perhaps we could have done better with the counter-attack, but we showed good energy, spirit and organisation.

“It was difficult for them to come into our box and for me it was a harsh penalty and a good save. It was a deserved point.”

Forster: ‘Liverpool’s nemesis’ – the stats

  • Liverpool have drawn 0-0 home and away against the same opponent in a Premier League season for the first time since 2008-09 against Stoke.
  • The Reds had 32 shots in the league matches without scoring against the Saints this season.
  • Jurgen Klopp has never beaten Southampton in the Premier League (D3 L1) – indeed, he has now faced them more than any other opponent without winning.
  • Forster saved his first Premier League penalty – Milner’s effort was the ninth he’d faced.
  • Forster was the first opposition goalkeeper to save a league penalty at Anfield since Rob Green stopped Steven Gerrard’s effort for QPR in May 2015.
  • Indeed, only Vito Mannone (13 for Sunderland in January) has made more saves against Liverpool in a Premier League game this season than Forster (eight).
  • Only Hull (12) have conceded more Premier League penalties this season than Southampton (nine).
  • The Saints failed to have a single shot on target in either Premier League game against Liverpool this season.

What’s next?

The Reds are at West Ham next Sunday (14:15 BST) and the Saints are at St Mary’s on Wednesday to face Arsenal (19:45 BST).

Live Text

Match ends, Liverpool 0, Southampton 0.

Second Half ends, Liverpool 0, Southampton 0.

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt blocked. James Milner (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Fraser Forster.

Attempt saved. Marko Grujic (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by James Milner with a cross.

Attempt blocked. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for hand ball.

Hand ball by Dejan Lovren (Liverpool).

Attempt missed. Emre Can (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

Marko Grujic (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ryan Bertrand (Southampton).

Substitution, Liverpool. Marko Grujic replaces Georginio Wijnaldum.

Attempt blocked. Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) left footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Cédric Soares with a cross.

Attempt saved. Adam Lallana (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Philippe Coutinho.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by James Milner.

Attempt missed. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne.

Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Jack Stephens.

Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Adam Lallana.

Attempt saved. Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

Attempt blocked. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Georginio Wijnaldum.

Attempt missed. Nathan Redmond (Southampton) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right following a set piece situation.

Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).

Dusan Tadic (Southampton) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

Nathan Redmond (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Dejan Lovren.

Attempt missed. Maya Yoshida (Southampton) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Dusan Tadic with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Southampton. Conceded by James Milner.

Attempt missed. Oriol Romeu (Southampton) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution, Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge replaces Divock Origi.

Substitution, Liverpool. Adam Lallana replaces Lucas Leiva.

Substitution, Southampton. Shane Long replaces Manolo Gabbiadini.

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Penalty saved! James Milner (Liverpool) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.

James Ward-Prowse (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

Cédric Soares (Southampton) is shown the yellow card.

Penalty conceded by Jack Stephens (Southampton) with a hand ball in the penalty area.

Offside, Southampton. Ryan Bertrand tries a through ball, but Manolo Gabbiadini is caught offside.

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