Liverpool marched its way into the semifinals of the Capital One Cup (Football League Cup) with its most emphatic win of the 2015-16 season to date.
The Reds beat Southampton 6-1 on Wednesday at St. Mary’s Stadium, booking their place in the competition’s semifinals for a record 16th time. The Reds have won the League Cup eight times, and there’s no reason they won’t make it nine if they keep playing like this.
Goals. Lots of them.
Daniel Sturridge opened the floodgates, Divock Origi kept them coming, and the Reds didn’t stop scoring until the final whistle mercifully ended the game.
Sadio Mane put Southampton up 1-0 after 39 seconds. The Southampton winger out-jumped Alberto Moreno at the far post and headed Ryan Bertrand’s cross past Adam Bogdan. The hosts wouldn’t smile much after that early joy, and Bogdan became a virtual spectator.
The teams canceled each other out for the next 20 minutes.
Sturridge then marked his first start in over two months with a quick double. He notched his first goal in the 25th minute, running onto Joe Allen’s pass, creating the necessary space and angle at which to shoot then powerfully firing the ball inside of the far post. If Liverpool fans have missed watching him dance, they’d soon witness his signature move again.
Sturridge put Liverpool ahead for good just four minutes later, when Emre Can sent him into Southampton’s penalty area with a sublime, outside-of-the-foot pass. Sturridge read the ball’s bounce perfectly and shot first time under goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
We’ll never know what would have happened had the referee awarded Southampton a penalty kick in the 32nd minute. The ball appeared to hit Liverpool defender Connor Randall’s arm inside his own’s penalty area, but the officials ignored the Saints’ and the crowd’s howls.
The hosts’ game disintegrated over the last quarter-hour of the first half, and Moreno and Origi made them pay.
Moreno appeared to have given Liverpool a 3-1 lead in the 45th minute, but replays showed Origi slightly touched the fullback’s accurate drive inside the goal mouth.
Origi’s first goal for Liverpool was understated. His next was anything but.
Substitute Jordon Ibe met Origi’s intelligent run with an incisive pass into Southampton’s penalty area. Origi then thundered his unstoppable shot into the top corner, finishing the Reds’ counter-attack with authority.
Liverpool’s wasn’t finished scoring or doing it with style.
Ibe made the score 5-1 in the 73rd minute when he nicely controlled Moreno’s cross and drove a low shot into the near corner.
Origi completed his hat trick and the Reds’ rampage in the 86th minute by heading Brad Smith’s cross past the despairing Stekelenburg from 6 yards out.
Why the outcome?
Liverpool attacked and defended relentlessly for most of the game, leaving Southampton little hope of victory.
Focus appeared to be an issue after Mane’s goal, but the early strike ultimately was a tiny blemish on a famous cup win. Liverpool’s energy was high and tactics effective in blunting Southampton’s plans.
Liverpool’s passing wasn’t at its flowing best, but its finishing was clinical and then some. Liverpool scored when it shot on goal … over and over again. The results were historic.
Liverpool has been wasteful in front of goal at times this season but showed what the result can be when it makes the most of its chances. Stekelenburg didn’t make a save until the game was well out of reach.
Liverpool will play Newcastle on Sunday at St. James’ Park. Newcastle is in 19th place in the Premier League standings, having won just two and drawn two of its last 10 league games.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@Eurosport_UK
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