Liverpool top Southampton to retake lead in Premier League

Liverpool 's Mo Salah takes off his shirt to celebrate after scoring a goal against Southampton during a Premier League match at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton, England, on Friday, April 5. EFE/EPA/GERRY PENNY

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND.- Liverpool came from behind here Friday to defeat Southampton 3-1 and reclaim the lead in the Premier League.

The victory boosts the Reds to 82 points from 33 matches, two more than second-place Manchester City, though the defending champions have a game in hand.

Southampton, with 33 points from 32 matches, sit in 16th place thanks to a better goal difference from Burnley.

Liverpool came into the contest at St. Mary’s Stadium having conceded at least one goal in each of their previous four games and the Saints didn’t take long to make sure the streak would continue.

Nine minutes in, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg headed the ball across the area to an unmarked Shane Long, who put it past Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson to make it 1-0 for the hosts.

Long became the fourth Irish player to reach 50 goals in the Premier League and broke Southampton’s 463-minute-long scoring drought against the Merseyside team.

Before Long, the last player to score against Liverpool in a Saints shirt was Sadio Mane, who had a brace in a March 2016 victory months before leaving Southampton to join the Reds.

Six players have abandoned Southampton for Liverpool in the last five years, most recently Virgil van Dijk, who has transformed the previously suspect Reds defense into one of the best in Europe.

The visitors pulled level in the 36th minute, as Naby Keïta posted his first Liverpool goal with a header off a cross from 20-year-old defender Trent Alexander-Arnold, playing his 50th match for the Reds.

While Liverpool were much better in the second half, they were far from dominant and the score was still 1-1 with 10 minutes left in regulation when Mohamed Salah dashed 50 yards down the field and scored to put his side ahead 2-1.

Salah’s first goal in nine matches was also his 50th for Liverpool in the Premier League. The Egyptian reached the milestone in 69 matches, a mark bested only by former Manchester United star Ruud van Nistelrooy (68) and Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer (66).

Reds captain Jordan Henderson, a second-half sub, scored for the first time in more than a year, providing an insurance goal in the 86th minute with a tremendous assist from Roberto Firmino.

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