Benitez gave the Cup up for that?
By Andy Proudfoot - Daily Post
Wallowing in the bottom three? Not won for ages? Pitiful goalscoring record? Never mind, Liverpool are in town.
So often sides who would be swept aside by the likes of the big three are too much for us, despite containing not a single player who we would wish in our starting XI.
This malaise was a strong factor in the demise of Gerard Houllier, and now apparently also afflicts Rafa Benitez.
Southampton have now given us two torrid games in under a month, and Birmingham took the points at Anfield earlier this season on the back of their worst run for years.
Clearly the patient is still sick, and the big question is whether Spanish Fly will be the potion that rouses us from our torpor.
The quality of Benitez's buys is causing legitimate concern. Only Alonso and, hopefully, Morientes appear to be of the required standard, Garcia and Josemi have faded while Nunez will probably be more effective during his ban than before it.
Pellegrino, a 33-year-old Valencia reserve who arrived ostensibly as cover for Hyypia and Carragher, has been thrust into action, disturbing that combination which has been one of our strongest facets this season, unsettling Hyypia and weakening the defence.
Even allowing for his obvious rustiness, is Pellegrino any better than Henchoz?
His lethargy on the ball led to the first goal on Saturday, compounded by Dudek's poor attempt to cover his near post.
A better second half promised some recovery, but poor shooting from promising positions confirmed a depressing end to a torrid week. Was this match worth gambling the FA Cup for?
Redknapp thrilled with first win
Southampton manager Harry Redknapp paid tribute to his team's spirit after Saints beat Liverpool 2-0 at St Mary's.
"We were excellent in midfield, they worked their socks off and showed bulldog spirit," said Redknapp after his first league win for the club.
"We’ve got players who are confident and not afraid to play under pressure.
"We changed the system, we played one up front and five across midfield. We decided we were going to run and join the attack and it worked a treat."
David Prutton, scorer of Southampton’s opening goal, said: "We did really well today and defended right to the end and it’s full credit to everyone that we won.
"The midfield was excellent, Jamie (Redknapp) played well, Rory (Delap) did well, having that extra man helps.
"A big thing has been made of the lack of confidence here but we really took it to Liverpool and we have to do that every week if we’re going to get out of trouble."
Peter Crouch, who laid on the first goal and scored the second, being deployed as a lone striker, added: "Everyone knows how hard it is to play up front on your own but I had to do it for team.
"We were thinking about the Middlesbrough game (when Saints led 2-0 but could only draw 2-2) but we all worked hard and got the reward.
"There’s four teams battling down there and hopefully we can be the ones to get out of it."
Benitez focused on Watford
By Richard Jolly - Planet Football/Sky Sports
Rafa Benitez concentrated on recovering from Liverpool's third defeat in a week after the loss to Southampton.
The relegation strugglers beat Benitez's side 2-0, but the Spaniard was keen to focus on Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final second leg against Watford.
"It is always important when you lose to think about winning the next game," he said.
Liverpool were 2-0 down after 22 minutes and Benitez explained: "If you concede two goals very soon it is never easy to get back. We conceded too soon and they tried to play the long ball. We needed to go forward more but it was difficult."
The Liverpool manager admitted he was disappointed with the defending for both of the Southampton goals.
He added: "In the second half we had some chances but it is more difficult when you are losing and you know time is against you.
"It is always important if you lose to think about the next game. We will try to recover quickly."
BBC Sport Online
Southampton boosted their prospects of avoiding the
drop by recording their first Premiership win under
Harry Redknapp to frustrate Liverpool.
David Prutton took advantage of poor Liverpool defending
to fire Saints ahead from Peter Crouch's return pass.
Prutton then turned provider, crossing for the unmarked
Crouch to double their lead before the break.
Steven Gerrard shaved the bar for Liverpool in the
second half but Saints defended stoutly for a vital win.
Southampton's cause was not helped by a training ground
injury to Nigel Quashie, which ruled the £2.5m signing
A full-strength Liverpool team showed eight changes from
the side that exited the FA Cup at Burnley.
But Liverpool appeared to still be suffering from that
midweek hangover as Southampton took a fifth-minute
Mauricio Pellegrino was caught in possession in his own
penalty area by Prutton, who took a return pass from
Crouch before drilling his shot under Dudek.
A foul by Calum Davenport on Milan Baros gave Liverpool
a chance to chance to level quickly but they made a
horrible hash of the free-kick as they tried to work a
training ground routine.
Prutton confidently took advantage of the space as
Liverpool backed off to fire a shot wide from 23 yards.
Liverpool worked their first opportunity on 24 minutes
when Baros picked out Gerrard but the England man blazed
over from 18 yards.
It proved a costly miss as Southampton immediately
doubled their lead. Anders Svensson, Jamie Redknapp and
Mikael Nilsson neatly worked the opening to release
Prutton whose cross found Crouch completely unmarked at
the far post to head home his sixth goal of the season.
Liverpool were distinctly shaky at the back and a posse
of four yellow shirts failed to stop Crouch winning Rory
Delap's long throw, but the ball went through to Dudek.
Southampton should have put the game beyond reach on 33
minutes when Delap broke clear from midfield but with
only Dudek to beat and with support to his right his
tame effort gave the Polish keeper an easy save.
Dudek got his angles right to deny Crouch but at the
other end Nilsson was caught in possession and Gerrard
fed Luis Garcia but Antti Niemi was out quickly to
Florent Sinama Pongolle replaced Stephen Warnock at the
start of the second half as Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez
looked to fire his lacklustre side up.
Claus Lundekvam's block denied Morientes before Baros
worked himself a yard of space to fire a shot inches
Redknapp was harshly pulled up for handball on the edge
of his penalty box and the resulting free-kick was
touched to Gerrard whose shot skimmed the top of the
It was a much-improved second half from Liverpool and
after Lundekvam's challenge whipped the ball off Baro's
toes, Morientes found space but blasted wastefully over.
But Southampton defended doggedly, in contrast to
Liverpool whose panic-stricken defending almost
presented Crouch with a chance as Pellegrino's clearance
Referee Alan Wiley waved away strong Southampton penalty
appeals when subsitute David Raven appeared to shove
Crouch as a cross came in.
Baros was Liverpool's main threat and he checked back on
to his right foot to fizz a shot just wide of Niemi's
right-hand post and as Southampton defended deeper,
Gerrard drove forward but fired wide from 20 yards.