Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018

Liverpool sweep past Southampton for sixth straight Premier League win

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool kept up their perfect record in the Premier League with a sixth straight victory on Saturday after beating Southampton 3-0 at Anfield.
Switzerland international Xherdhan Shaqiri marked his first start for the club with a role in two first-half goals.
His deflected cross was turned in by Wesley Hoedt for the opener and a brilliant curling free-kick against the crossbar presented Mohamed Salah with a simple close-range effort for the third.
Either side of those goals, Joel Matip scored his first at Anfield as Southampton were pulled apart by a Liverpool side still nowhere near top gear.
Juergen Klopp’s team are top with 18 points though Chelsea can go level on points if they win at West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool still have some way to go to match the club’s best start to a campaign, though, as the 1990-91 side won 10 successive competitive matches.
Klopp changed his system to accommodate Shaqiri, switching to 4-2-3-1 with Salah moved to the center and Shaqiri playing behind.
In the 10th minute Shaqiri cut in from the left to race onto Sadio Mane’s perfectly-weighted throughball, hitting a right-footed shot off Shane Long onto Hoedt with scrambling goalkeeper Alex McCarthy unable to keep it out.
Salah was denied by a superbly timed block from Cedric Soares after combining with Roberto Firmino but that led to the second goal as Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner was powerfully headed home by Matip, making his first start since March 31.
Salah avoided the worst drought of his short Liverpool career in first-half added time thanks to his anticipation and no shortage of Shaqiri brilliance, netting his 30th goal in his last 31 Anfield appearances.
He was denied a second for offside in the 89th minute after Mario Lamina had cleared James Milner’s shot off the line.
The only downside to the afternoon was the departure of Virgil van Dijk with a bruised rib.
For Southampton it was a third loss in six league matches.


Australia salvage a draw in second Ashes Test at Lord’s, stay 1-0 ahead of England

Updated 45 min 28 sec ago

Australia salvage a draw in second Ashes Test at Lord’s, stay 1-0 ahead of England

LONDON: Australia defied the absence of star batsman Steve Smith because of a concussion and more devastating spells of pace bowling by Jofra Archer to hold out for a draw in the second Ashes Test against England on Sunday.
Set an improbable victory target of 267 off 48 overs at Lord’s, the Australians quickly slumped to 47-3 but a fourth-wicket stand of 85 between Marnus Labuschagne (59) and Travis Head (42 not out) helped push them to safety.
Australia lost three more wickets in a five-over stretch to keep the match alive as the light faded, but managed to survive to 154-6 at the end.
Australia retain a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Labuschagne had an interesting day. He only found out he’d be playing as Test cricket’s first-ever concussion substitute when Smith was withdrawn from the team early Sunday after waking up with a headache and feeling groggy after being hit in the neck by an Archer bumper on Saturday.
Labuschagne came to the middle with Australia struggling on 19-2 after 5.3 overs and, off the second ball he faced, was hit on the grille of his helmet by another vicious delivery from Archer. The batsman dropped to the ground, was checked out by medical staff and required a new helmet.
In a blistering spell by Archer, balls flew past Labuschagne but he survived and looked more comfortable in the final session as England’s hopes began to dwindle at the home of cricket. He finally departed, somewhat controversially, when England captain Joe Root was adjudged to have got his fingers under a diving catch at midwicket from Labuschagne’s sweep.
It was Labuschagne’s second half-century in his sixth Test and he could stay in the team for the third Test starting Thursday at Headingley, with Smith’s availability in doubt.
With Australia currently holding the Ashes urn, the English need to win two of the final three tests to take it off their fierce rivals.
Archer’s performance at Lord’s on his test debut will give England real hope, though. He was a permanent menace, taking 2-59 off 29 overs in the first innings and then 3-32 off 15 overs in the second.
A day after flooring Smith with a vicious 92 mph delivery, the Barbados-born quick removed David Warner for 5 — his fourth straight single-figure score this series — and then Usman Khawaja for 2 to catches behind the wicket.
He peppered Bancroft and Labuschagne with missiles but they lasted until tea.
Bancroft (16) was trapped lbw by spinner Jack Leach early in the final session but England could only make further inroads when it was too late.
After Labuschagne’s departure, Leach removed Matthew Wade for 1 before Joe Denly produced a sensational one-handed catch at midwicket off Archer to take out Australia captain Tim Paine for 4.
Head, who was dropped on 22 by Jason Roy at second slip, persevered and Archer had to be withdrawn from the attack late on because of the poor light. He put his hat back on, and Australia’s players could breathe a sigh of relief.
Earlier, Ben Stokes brought up his seventh Test century before England declared their second innings on 258-5 — the same total the team was all out for in its first innings.
Stokes was unbeaten on 115 after hitting 11 fours and three sixes at the ground where he helped win the Cricket World Cup for England barely a month ago. Jonny Bairstow was not out on 30.
England resumed Sunday on 96-4 in its second innings and added 162 runs before declaring midway through the second session.