Liverpool ensured the Premier League title race will go all the way to the final day by beating Southampton 2-1 at St Mary’s.
Oel Matip’s decisive second-half winner put the Reds a single point behind leaders Manchester City to set up a tantalizing final on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men knew they had to be victorious on the south coast to stay in contention and become top flight champions for only the second time in 32 years and were blown away by Nathan Redmond’s superb solo opener.
But the much-changed visitors controlled the action for most of the evening, leveling through former Saints loanee Takumi Minamino before Matip completed the turnaround with the help of a distraction from Kyle Walker-Peters.
Liverpool’s win meant the title race will go to the last day and Reds boss Klopp told Sky Sports: “We conceded a goal out of nowhere, I didn’t look back but for me it definitely felt like a foul.
“We had the same situation for us against Manchester United a while back when (Marcus) Rashford scored.
“(It was) exactly the same and then, ‘Oh yeah, we could have given that (as a foul)’. But who cares?
“That just made it (the win) even more special and I’m really proud of the lads.”
Reds midfielder Milner said that’s all they could do.
“We fight to the end, keep going. We can only take it as far as we can,” he told Sky Sports.
“Trying to win our game, that’s all we can do and that’s all we’ve tried since January.
“They (City) are an incredible team to compete against and whatever we do this season I think we’ve done proud.
“We tried to keep the pressure up until the end. Hopefully we can still have two big performances this season.”
The Reds, who continue to battle for an unprecedented quadruple, will welcome Wolves to Anfield in five days with hopes Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa can do them a big favor away at City.
The loss for 15th place Southampton was an eighth in eleven games.
Klopp lamented the scheduling of this must-win game as it came three days after the Reds’ grueling FA Cup final win over Chelsea.
The German opted for nine substitutions after that penalty shoot-out success, with goalkeeper Alisson Becker and defender Ibrahima Konate the only men remaining and Sadio Mane joining injured duo Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah to get the evening off.
His realigned side enjoyed plenty of early possession but were rocked by Redmond’s delicate 13th-minute effort.
After Lyanco disowned Diogo Jota just outside the Saints’ box, Redmond received the ball from Nathan Tella and ran nearly half the length of the field before cutting in from the left and rolling home via a slight deflection from James Milner off the edge of the area .
Klopp took the harsh challenge to Jota as a foul and had further frustration minutes later when Roberto Firmino’s precise header from a Kostas Tsimikas free-kick was flagged for offside.
Choruses of “God Save the Queen” rang out from sections of the home support after Liverpool fans booed the national anthem at Wembley over the weekend before the visitors soon equalized.
Japan international Minamino equalized in the 27th minute by beating recalled Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy at his near post with a powerful, rising shot into the roof of the net after being expertly slipped in by Jota.
Liverpool were forced into a move at the break with captain Jordan Henderson replacing the injured Joe Gomez and edging out the versatile Milner at right-back.
The forced change had little effect on the flow of play and narrow passes from Jota and Harvey Elliott gave the visitors a decisive lead in the 67th minute.
Tsimikas’ sweeping corner from the left was accidentally played by Saints winger Mohamed Elyounoussi and Matip held off Walker-Peters to send a header past McCarthy into the right corner in front of the madly traveling fans.
Southampton rarely threatened a costly equalizer, although Liverpool keeper Alisson fumbled a Redmond shot from long-range late on.
Klopp is hoping an injury to Joe Gomez, who was forced off the pitch with what appeared to be a knee problem, won’t be too serious.
“I hope we’re lucky. Joe himself is in pain, but not too much,” said Klopp at his post-match press conference.
“He went into real system shock. He was in the dressing room when I spoke to him and he was in a good mood.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/premier-league/we-fight-to-the-end-james-milner-issues-warning-as-liverpools-premier-league-title-challenge-goes-to-final-day-41660389.html ‘We’ll fight to the end’ – James Milner warns as Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge goes to the last day