Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 on Tuesday, keeping the Premier League championship battle alive until the last day of the season, thanks to Joel Matip’s stooping header.
The defeat moves Liverpool a point behind leaders Manchester City ahead of the final round of games on Sunday when City face Aston Villa at Anfield and Liverpool host Wolverhampton Wanderers.
City have 90 points, while Liverpool have 89, which means a win for Pep Guardiola’s team against Villa, led by former Reds captain Steven Gerrard, would guarantee their fourth league championship in five seasons.
Juergen Klopp made nine changes to the lineup that defeated Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup final on Saturday, with Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah both injured but numerous others resting.
When Southampton grabbed the lead in the 13th minute thanks to a fantastic Nathan Redmond shot after cutting in from the left side, Klopp’s decision seemed doubtful.
As the visitors sought a swift way back into the game, Roberto Firmino, who led the line in Sadio Mane’s absence, had a header called out for offside.
Liverpool, who play Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28, pulled level in the 27th minute when Takumi Minamino, who spent last season on loan at Southampton, sent a ferocious effort in at the near post.
Joe Gomez, whose Liverpool career has been hindered by injuries, had to be replaced at halftime after seeming to suffer an ankle injury shortly before the break.
The goal had knocked the wind out of Southampton’s sails, and it came as no surprise when Kostas Tsimikas’ corner was headed in by Matip in the 67th minute.
Southampton made a poor effort, and Liverpool quickly saw out the remainder of the game, setting up what might be a difficult final day.
James Milner, a 36-year-old utility player who was granted a rare start, lauded the backup players for their approach to the game.
“The guys are fantastic. The players who may not have played as much, but you can see their level of effort in training every day and when they need to step up “He said.
“It’s a unique set of players and a unique football club. We fight till the very end and then keep going. All we can do is push it as far as possible, “He said.