Liverpool 0-1 Southampton player ratings: Stephens, Romeu shine in EFL Cup semi-final, Can only 7/10 Reds performer

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Southampton booked their place in the first ever EFL Cup final on Wednesday night by securing a 2-0 aggregate win over Liverpool.

The Saints won 1-0 on the night thanks to a stoppage-time winner from half-time substitute Shane Long.

However, it was their rearguard display that deserves most of the plaudits. Southampton, who will face either Manchester United or Hull City at Wembley, have not conceded a goal in any of their five EFL Cup games this season.

With a first-leg deficit to overturn and a recent home defeat against Swansea City to make amends for, Liverpool were expected to fly out of the blocks. But they started sluggishly.

And they were lucky not to concede a penalty midway through the first half when Dejan Lovren got away with grabbing a handful of shirt inside the 18-yard box.

Liverpool dominated possession throughout the opening 45 minutes, but the best chance fell to Southampton’s Dusan Tadic, who was denied by Loris Karius from close range.

A Fraser Forster error almost gifted Liverpool the breakthrough just before the hour-mark when the Saints goalkeeper missed a punch. However, he spared his blushes in spectacular fashion by racing back to claw the ball off the goal-line, with video technology showing his margin of error had been incredibly slim.

Liverpool only created a handful of chances, but two fell to the usually-reliable Daniel Sturridge, who will have been disappointed to see both efforts fly off target.

Southampton camped deep inside their own half for the final throws of the game, but the pace in their attack meant that they remained a threat on the break.

Anfield – criticised for its low volume levels of late – noisily begged referee Martin Atkinson to give the home side a spot-kick as desperation grew.

The most convincing penalty shout came in stoppage time when Divock Origi went down under a challenge from Jack Stephens, but replays showed that there was no foul.

Atkinson rightly waved away the protests, instead awarding a corner from which Southampton nailed Liverpool on the counter attack.

A brilliant run by Josh Sims tore through the heart of an over-committed Liverpool midfield, before a nicely-weighted pass set-up Long, who slammed an emphatic shot beyond the onrushing Karius.

Player ratings

Loris Karius 6, Trent Alexander-Arnold 5, Dejan Lovren 5, Joel Matip 5, James Milner 6, Emre Can 7, Jordan Henderson 6, Adam Lallana 6, Philippe Coutinho 6, Daniel Sturridge 5, Roberto Firmino 6.

Fraser Forster 7, Cedric Soares 7, Jack Stephens 8, Maya Yoshida 7, Ryan Bertrand 7, Oriol Romeu 8, Steven Davis 6, James Ward-Prowse 6, Nathan Redmond 7, Dusan Tadic 6, Jay Rodriguez 5.

Shane Long (on for Rodriguez at half time) 7, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (on for Ward-Prowse on 59 mins) 6, Divock Origi (on for Can on 78 mins) 6, Josh Sims (on for Redmond on 81 mins) 7, Georginio Wijnaldum (on for Coutinho on 87 mins) n/a.

More Stories Adam Lallana Cedric Soares Daniel Sturridge dusan tadic Emre Can Fraser Forster Jack Stephens James Milner James Ward-Prowse Jay Rodriguez Jordan Henderson Loris Karius Maya Yoshida Nathan Redmond Oriol Romeu Philippe Coutinho Roberto Firmino Ryan Bertrand Shane Long Steven Davis Trent Alexander-Arnold