Saints stun leaders Liverpool

Southampton, January 5

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl slumped to the ground, pulled down the bill of his cap, and wept after another big win for his team in the English Premier League. On the receiving end this time were Liverpool, who also appear to be on their knees in what is shaping up to be the most open title races in years.

Danny Ings, a former Liverpool player, scored in the second minute to lead Southampton to a 1-0 win over the champions at an empty St. Mary’s Stadium on Monday. Liverpool have gone three games without a win — after back-to-back draws against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle — and lead on only goal difference from great rivals Manchester United, who have played one game fewer.

United aren’t the only team in striking distance of the lead approaching the halfway point of the league. Four points separate Liverpool from seventh-placed Everton, with 10th-placed West Ham only seven points off the lead in what was always going to be a disjointed season amid the pandemic.

Southampton are in the mix, their latest win lifting Hasenhuttl’s team to sixth place in a season when they have been in first place — albeit briefly — for the first time since 1988. It all proved too much for the emotional Hasenhuttl at the final whistle.

Southampton were depleted for the game. But the Saints still had Ings, who latched onto a free-kick by James Ward-Prowse and lifted a bouncing ball over goalkeeper Alisson Becker and into the far corner. It was attack vs defense from then on but Southampton held firm. — AP

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