LIVERPOOL: Three games and still no win for Jurgen Klopp after Liverpool, after fortunately acquiring a late lead against Southampton, conceded a 1-1 draw with sloppy defending.
Elsewhere in the Premier League the Manchester derby ended in a goalless draw – and City on top of the table – while Sunderland trounced Newcastle in the north-east clash and Harry Kane scored a hat-trick for Tottenham at Bournemouth.
Liverpool manager Klopp has yet to tick off all the initial milestones of his first new job since 2008: the first game, the first home game, the first home league game, but not a first win with three games gone.
He said: “It was very difficult because Southampton are strong in away games and so we knew it would be hard work only three days after the last game.
“We didn’t create enough chances. At the end we had our moments. We played very well in many situations but then we lost we lost three one-on-one situations in the air and the ball was in [the net]. Not so good.
“The players were so disapppointed but it’s football and we had more minutes to play but there was no belief more in their eyes and nobody was able to push, to say something positive.”
Already speculation is revolving around how and with whom Klopp will want Fenway Sports Group to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window. Lazar Markovic has made no secret of his interest in cutting short early his loan to Fenerbahce; Fiorentina’s out-of-favour midfielder Mario Suarez has been spied out a number of times; so has Porto’s outstanding 18-year-old Ruben Neves.
Liverpool’s early football was all about aggression, energy and speed of passing – as Saints’ manager Ronald Koeman had forecast before the game. On that expectation Southampton allowed Liverpool to chase around the pitch while sitting deeper than usual and concentrating on closing down space between defence and midfield.
The need for Liverpool was then for an individual piece of expertise to break the deadlock and James Milner – captain in the absence of injured Jordan Henderson – nearly produced it on the half hour. He slalomed across the face of the Saints penalty only to drive his shot side of keeper Maarten Stekelenburg’s left-hand post.
Divock Origi’s failure to make an impression at centre forward was illustrated twice over at half-time. Firstly, the statistics showed he had touched the ball only 13 times; secondly, he was substituted by Benteke at the centre of attack. The change brought immediate reward with two half-chances for Beneteke and four successive corners.
The game did open up now with more half-chances at both ends. Goals had to come – and they did, at both ends. First, in the 77th minute. Benteke rose to head home a superb right-wing cross from Milner. Nine minutes later Southampton equalised, deservedly, through Mane from close range to punish sloppy defending.
There was just time left for Mane to spoil his day’s work on being sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.
Goalless at Old Trafford
Honours ended even for the old boys of Wolfsburg and Bayern in their first taste of a Manchester derby. But after a goalless draw at Old Trafford it was Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne who had more reason for satisfaction than Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The single point was enough to keep City at the top of the table, albeit now only on goal difference, ahead of Arsenal. They were also fortunate in the closing minutes when United substitute Jesse Lingard hit the bar and then Chris Smalling had a low shot pushed around a post by City keeper Joe Hart.
By then Schweinsteiger was sitting on bench. He had a tidy first half but was unable to make enough of a difference after moving further forward after the interval. On the one occasion when he found himself in space in the penalty box he dithered too long over the ball and City cleared for a corner.
It was only after Maraoune Fellaini had replaced Schweinsteiger in the last 74th minutes that United were able to put City under pressure for the first time.
City, with Nicolas Ottamendi and returning Vincent Kompany solid in central defence, lacked an attacking threat of their own but had greater excuse.
De Bruyne was largely overrun on the City right by United fullback Marcos Rojo in the first half and had hardly any more luck after switching to the left in the second half. Yaya Toure was City’s liveliest player. The others, De Bruyne included, clearly missed not having the injured Sergio Aguero and David Silva to play up to.
Happy Black Cats
Sunderland stepped off the bottom of the table by winning their sixth successive north-east derby against Newcastle, the longest such sequence in the history of the confrontation.
Their 3-0 victory was the Blacks Cats’ first win of the season and thus the first for new manager Sam Allardyce at second attempt after his arrival in place of Dick Advocaat.
The match turned on an incident just before half-time when Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini was sent off for fouling Steven Fletcher. Adam Johnson converted the penalty and Billy Jones and Fletcher himself capitalised on Sunderland’s one-man advantage after the interval.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane scored the second hat-trick of his Premier career in a decisive 5-1 victory at promoted Bournemouth, his first goal a penalty. Kane had only scored one league goal previously this season but two for England.
** Aston Villa have sacked manager Tim Sherwood after the 2-1 home defeat by Swansea condemned the Midlanders to a sixth successive Premier defeat and slip to the foot of the table.