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 By David Usher

Martin Skrtel woeful as Liverpool let
2-0 lead slip, lose 3-2 at Southampton

Liverpool blew a great chance to make up ground on some of those teams above them as an embarrassing second half capitulation saw them defeated 3-2 at Southampton.

The Reds deservedly led 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge but inexplicably fell apart after the break. Simon Mignolet saved a penalty early in the second half but the Merseysiders failed to heed that warning and wake themselves from their initial slumber.

Southampton eventually drew level with goals from Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle, before Mane capitalised on awful defending to win it late on for Ronald Koeman's side.

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LiverpoolLiverpool
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Simon Mignolet, 7 -- A mixed bag for the Belgian. Had little to do in the first half as Liverpool continued their recent good defensive form but the departure of Dejan Lovren at half-time (or was it the introduction of Martin Skrtel?) changed all that and Mignolet was suddenly left exposed. He did make a great save to keep out Mane's penalty and also pulled off another fine save soon after, but he might have done more with Mane's first and it was his poor kick that contributed to the winning goal.

DF Jon Flanagan, 5 -- Named captain for the day in the absence of both Jordan Henderson and James Milner but it wasn't a game he'll remember with any real fondness. He lost possession in the build up to Southampton's opening goal and while otherwise generally sound, contributed little going forward.

DF Dejan Lovren, 6 -- Had an uncomfortable return to his former club and could have conceded an early penalty when he collided with Shane Long in the penalty area. He was booked soon after for bringing the Irishman down once again with a late tackle by the touchline. Those two moments aside, he played his part in a good defensive showing from the Reds and it was surely not a coincidence that they fell apart after he went off. Klopp may be regretting that decision now.

DF Mamadou Sakho, 7 -- A decent performance from the Frenchman, who was essentially an innocent bystander in Liverpool's defensive capitulation. Made numerous clearances and showed his customary coolness in possession.

DF Nathaniel Clyne, 6 -- Steady enough defensively but didn't offer much in attack on his unfavoured left side. Might have done better with an effort in the second half when he cut inside and hit a low shot straight at the keeper.

MF Adam Lallana, 7 -- Kept the ball well and showed great composure in possession as well as his usual tireless work ethic. Not a happy homecoming against his former employers and although it won't be much consolation, he was perhaps Liverpool's best performer on the day.

Skrtel's introduction proved game-changing in a negative sense for Liverpool, who let a 2-0 half-time lead slip.

MF Emre Can, 6 -- Outstanding in the first half but faded after the break. Never shirked in his defensive duties but the introduction of the powerful Victor Wanyama certainly made life more difficult for Liverpool's midfield, as did the uncertainty behind them following Klopp's half-time reshuffle.

MF Joe Allen, 7 -- As with Can, he was much more effective in the opening period when he bossed the game from the middle of the park. Went close to scoring but was denied by the outstretched boot of the keeper following a devastating counter attack. He thought he'd scored soon after when he rifled a low shot into the net after Southampton had failed to deal with a corner, but it was ruled out because Sakho was in an offside position.

MF Philippe Coutinho, 7 -- Scored a terrific goal to put his team ahead and played a delightful pass down the line in the build up to the second goal. Sparkled in the first half but vanished in the second as the game got away from Liverpool. In fairness, by the end he looked absolutely shattered: he has played a lot of football in recent weeks.

FW Daniel Sturridge, 7 -- Picked up where he left off the last time he played at St Mary's, as he and Origi ran Southampton ragged at times in the first half. His finish for Liverpool's second goal was superb, but he ran out of steam in the second half and looked like he was running in treacle. No surprise that he was replaced on 70 minutes by Christian Benteke.

FW Divock Origi, 7 -- As with many of his teammates, he was excellent in the first half but mostly ineffective in the second. Showed good awareness and unselfishness to set up Sturridge for his goal and kept running right up until the end.

Substitutes:

DF Martin Skrtel, 4 -- Klopp usually gets his substitutions right, but he got this one badly wrong. Liverpool's defence looked all at sea after Skrtel came on. He conceded a penalty, looked edgy throughout and was caught out badly for the winning goal. Poor Kolo Toure must be wondering exactly what he's done to have suddenly fallen behind Skrtel in the pecking order.

FW Christian Benteke, 4 -- The opportunity was there for Benteke to be the hero when Lallana played him in with a great chance to make it 3-1 and ice the game, but his shot lacked conviction and rolled wide of the post.

MF Sheyi Ojo, NR -- Replaced Allen for the final few minutes but had no time to make an impression.

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