Usually spot-on Reds skipper misses first penalty since 2009 as side’s Champions League hopes dented by Saints
Liverpool’s James Milner has his penalty saved by Southampton’s Fraser Forster during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Liverpool: Liverpool’s James Milner missed a penalty as his side wasted a chance to bolster their bid to qualify for the Champions League in an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Southampton on Sunday.
With rivals Arsenal and Manchester United clashing in Sunday’s late kick-off, Jurgen Klopp’s team had a golden opportunity to seize the initiative in the race for a top-four finish.
But the Reds never got out of first gear at Anfield in a terrible contest best remembered for Fraser Forster’s brilliant penalty save from Liverpool skipper Milner.
It was Milner’s first missed penalty since November 2009, when he was playing for Aston Villa against Bolton, and it summed up the feeling that this would not be Liverpool’s day.
“It’s very frustrating. Obviously the penalty is my fault and the fact we didn’t get three points is definitely my fault. I have to live with that,” Milner said.
“Fraser is a top keeper but you have to take those chances.”
Forster spoke to Milner before the penalty, possibly in a bid to play mind games with his former Newcastle teammate.
But Milner insisted that was no excuse for the miss.
“I’ve been around long enough to make sure that doesn’t worry me. I can’t do any more than hold my hands up,” he said.
“The penalty was a big chance and we didn’t take it. We have to win our remaining two games and see if it’s good enough.”
Liverpool boss Klopp insisted Milner shouldn’t be singled out for blame because his side had squandered other chances to score.
“He should not blame himself — that is football. Him scoring would have helped of course but that is not the only decisive thing today,” he said.
“I thought our performance was good enough to win. Southampton wanted to come here and somehow get a point.
“It is not finished yet. We all have to play our games. We go to West Ham and try to win and that’s all we can do.”
Philippe Coutinho started despite suffering a dead leg against Watford last week yet he had little impact during a match where nobody in a red shirt stood out.
Liverpool had failed to score against Southampton in their three previous encounters this season, once in the Premier League and in both legs of their League Cup semi-final tie, and the opening stages of this game contained very little attacking ambition from either side.
In fact, this match furthered the idea that Liverpool struggle against Premier League sides of a lesser calibre, especially those teams that look to do little else but cling on for a point, as Southampton did for most of this match.
In the opening 45 minutes, the home side had the lion’s share of possession but they did very little with it as Southampton sat deep and were more than happy to contain the likes of Divock Origi, Emre Can and Roberto Firmino.
The match became increasingly fractious as Liverpool grew frustrated by their inability to break down the disciplined visitors.
Immediately after the interval, Sofiane Boufal had the visitors’ first effort, dribbling through a packed six-yard box but his tame effort was easily smothered at the last second by Liverpool’s defence.
The half-time break had done few favours for either side though as Liverpool remained dull and Southampton were more than happy to get nine men behind the ball and concentrate on defence at all costs.
Firmino’s trickery could not unlock Southampton’s back-four while Origi and Coutinho remained virtually anonymous during an occasion when Liverpool really needed them at their best.
Finally though, Liverpool got the opportunity they needed to punish Southampton as Jack Stephens elbowed away the ball inside the area after challenging Origi.
It was well spotted by referee Bobby Madley and although Milner’s spot-kick was right in the corner, Forster did well to get down and palm the effort away.
The passionate way Southampton’s players celebrated the fine save was also an indicator of how desperate they were to hold on for a point.
Klopp brought Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana on with 20 minutes to go in a bid to give Liverpool a spark.
But the Liverpool boss became increasingly restless and angry on the sideline.
Sturridge could have lifted the mood when 12 yards out but he poked an effort straight at Forster.
Lallana then had his own 20-yard effort saved by Forster with five minutes left before the Southampton keeper made another stunning save in stoppage-time, tipping over a Marko Grujic header to help the visitors hang on.
Premier League results on Sunday:
Liverpool 0 Southampton 0
Arsenal v Manchester United
Premier League table after Sunday’s early match (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):
Chelsea 34 26 3 5 72 29 81
Tottenham 35 23 8 4 71 23 77
Liverpool 36 20 10 6 71 42 70
Man City 35 20 9 6 70 37 69
Man Utd 34 17 14 3 51 25 65
Arsenal 33 18 6 9 64 42 60
Everton 36 16 10 10 60 41 58
West Brom 35 12 9 14 41 45 45
Leicester 35 12 7 16 45 54 43
Southampton 34 11 9 14 39 44 42
Bournemouth 36 11 9 16 52 65 42
West Ham 36 11 9 16 45 59 42
Stoke 36 10 11 15 39 52 41
Burnley 36 11 7 18 37 51 40
Watford 35 11 7 17 37 58 40
Crystal Palace 36 11 5 20 46 61 38
Swansea 36 10 5 21 41 69 35
Hull 36 9 7 20 36 69 34
Middlesbrough 35 5 13 17 26 45 28
Sunderland 35 6 6 23 28 60 24 — relegated
Note: top four qualify for Champions League; teams finishing fifth to seventh qualify for Europa League; bottom three relegated to Championship