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James Milner denied as Liverpool thwarted by stubborn Southampton

James Milner had a penalty saved as Liverpool saw their hopes of establishing a cushion in the chase for the top four frustrated by a 0-0 home draw against Southampton.

Liverpool started brightly in the sunshine at Anfield and former Southampton player Nathaniel Clyne made a foray down the right, with his cross towards Divock Origi causing problems before the visitors cleared their lines.

And with 10 minutes on the clock, Emre Can — whose spectacular bicycle kick won the game at Watford on Monday — saw an overhit pass sail just over the Southampton bar from some 40 yards out.

Georgino Wijnaldum had a looping header easily gathered by goalkeeper Fraser Forster before Liverpool had another chance on 15 minutes when Roberto Firmino fired in a shot that was blocked.

And although Liverpool were enjoying the majority of the possession they could do little with it as Southampton’s defence stood firm.

Philippe Coutinho tried to change all that, producing a 25-yard strike but sending it straight at Forster, and there was audible frustration when Milner, in a promising position, produced a tame cross that was easily cleared.

Firmino sent another effort straight at Forster before, with just under five minutes of an increasingly dull first half remaining, Can tried to lift the mood but his effort from the edge of the area was weak.

Milner swung in a hopeful cross that was headed down by Can towards Origi, but Southampton again cleared without any alarms as the opening period limped to a close.

Clyne was trying to inject some life into proceedings from Liverpool, but another run down the right ended with a cross straight into Forster’s hands at the near post.

Soon, Adam Lallana was warming up for Liverpool as manager Jurgen Klopp considered changes with his side continuing to dominate the ball but failing to do much with that possession.

But after 66 minutes, the game came to life when a long ball towards Origi came off the arm of Jack Stephens and referee Bobby Madley pointed to the penalty spot. Milner stepped up in front of the Kop — but Forster dived low to his right to make a superb save.

Klopp responded by readying both Lallana and Daniel Sturridge for action but the first change was made by Southampton’s Claude Puel, who took off Manolo Gabbiadini and replaced him with Shane Long.

Then Klopp made his moves, with Lucas off for Lallana and Sturridge replacing Origi.

Saints created a moment of danger when Dusan Tadic’s whipped corner glanced off Dejan Lovren and skimmed just wide, and the Kop voiced its frustration again when a Liverpool break moments later was ended by a foul from Firmino.

 Nathan Redmond lashed well over from an angle for Southampton as the game moved towards its final quarter of an hour, before Coutinho saw another effort from the edge of the box held after Sturridge had teed him up.

Sturridge then made room for himself but prodded his finish at Forster, and then Stephens blocked well as Milner burst into the area and fired in a low cross.

Tadic almost managed to steer the ball into Long’s path inside the Liverpool area, only for his pass to carry a little too much power, before Sturridge tried his luck again with a snap-shot that fizzed wide of the post.

Klopp replaced Wijnaldum with Marko Grujic as time ticked away — and his side almost conjured a late breakthrough when Coutinho’s header from a Milner cross was tipped over by Forster.

Credit:@ESPN staff

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