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Mourinho mismanages Pogba while Klopp's Liverpool excels

This was the kind of routine win that Liverpool rarely seem to be able to produce. Their front players produced wonderful goals and, for once, there were no dramas at the other end as Jurgen Klopp's side moved back into third and closed the gap on second-placed Manchester United to two points.

Positives

The defence had one or two wobbles in the first half but the way Liverpool kept the home side at arm's length after the break was encouraging. Virgil Van Dijk was dominant but this was a solid outing from the whole team.

Negatives

It's nit-picking, but the margin of victory should have been greater. Liverpool were excellent defensively but failed to make the most of counter-attacking opportunities.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- Klopp set his team up to play a certain style and he got the result, so job done. Liverpool are usually more on the front foot but the plan of allowing Southampton to come forward and then exploiting the space left behind worked well. Substitutions were made at the right time but, had a third goal arrived, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah might have been rested a little earlier.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Loris Karius, 7 -- Made a few good saves in the first half, with the pick coming when he was quick off his line to deny Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. One or two slightly unconvincing punches apart, this was another encouraging display as he looks to establish himself.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- Kept the talented Dusan Tadic in check throughout and produced some excellent early passes into space that lead to dangerous counter-attacks, particularly in the first half.

DF Joel Matip, 7 -- Played his part in a good defensive showing and contributed at the other end with a crisp pass into Salah in the build-up to the second goal.

DF Virgil Van Dijk, 8 -- Excellent. All eyes were on him as he returned to his former club but the defender took everything in stride and was a picture of composure. He organised and cajoled his teammates and was cool in possession.

DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- Another energetic outing. He had one or two difficult moments with crosses that dropped over his head and led to chances, but the second half was much more comfortable and he got forward to good effect.

MF Emre Can, 6 -- Not his best performance but steady enough, as he got a win as captain at the fourth time of asking. Caught in possession a couple of times, one of which led to a booking when he brought down Oriol Romeu. Needs to stop shooting from 25 yards with his weaker foot.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 7 -- Neat and tidy, defensively diligent and made some excellent runs ahead of his front men that, on another day, might have seen him get on the scoresheet.

MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 -- Started brightly, had a shot saved and played the pass that released Salah in the build-up to the opener. But Oxlade-Chamberlain faded as the game wore on and it was no surprise that he was the first player substituted, midway through the second half.

FW Mohamed Salah, 8 -- Registered a goal and an assist, even though he wasn't at his best. He missed a great chance to put the game to bed when he blazed over from 14 yards but, still, he is proving virtually unstoppable this season and is just one goal behind Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot.

FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Reached the 20-goal milestone for the season when he side-footed home Salah's pass after six minutes and returned the favour just before half-time with an extravagant back heel. Firmino was given a well-earned rest late on, perhaps with an eye on Wednesday's Champions League clash in Porto.

FW Sadio Mane, 6 -- Having had a "Fab Four" not so long ago, Liverpool now have a "Dynamic Duo," because Philippe Coutinho has left and Mane is badly out of form. He was slightly better in this game and showed signs that he might play his way out of his slump, but he's a long way from the form that made him the club's Player of the Year last season.

Substitutes:

MF James Milner, 7 -- Brought on to provide stability in midfield and he did just that. He tackled, made interceptions and passed the ball efficiently.

MF Adam Lallana, NR -- Lively in the brief time he was on, he kept the ball, showed good skill and lots of energy. He should have marked his cameo with a goal, though.

DF Dejan Lovren, NR -- On to help see out four minutes of stoppage time, he was spared a hostile reception from the home crowd as most of them had already gone home.

Dave Usher is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @theliverpoolway.

SOUTHAMPTON -- Jurgen Klopp stressed the importance of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to Liverpool and praised their workrate in the 2-0 victory at Southampton on Sunday.

Liverpool moved up to third in the Premier League, two points adrift of second-placed Manchester United, following a comfortable win on the south coast.

Firmino scored his 20th goal of the season inside six minutes at St. Mary's and delivered an exquisite backheeled assist for Salah's 42nd-minute goal, the Egypt international's 29th in all competitions.

"Our boys are important for us," Klopp told his postmatch news conference. "What I love is of course their skills and attitude, but the workrate is outstanding.

"Both get the profit from the style of play, that's for sure as well. We play in the areas where they like to have the ball.

"In this strong league you cannot be third without fantastic players and yes, they are two of them."

Of the battle for second place, Klopp said: "We don't hesitate, we take whatever we can get but it's not that we make the final bill now.

"We didn't know before the game that United would lose, but we know that we are not too far away. But it's not a battle between them and us, we play against them one more time in this season at least.

"For us, 54 points, that's important. What the other teams have we have no influence on, so we need to win. We now have the Champions League, then we have West Ham at home, which is difficult.

"That's all exciting, all intense, we need all the points and for today I am really happy that we could take these three."

Virgil van Dijk earned his first Premier League win as a Liverpool player, recording his first clean sheet since joining from Southampton at the start of January.

The world's most expensive defender was given a hostile reception by the home crowd at St. Mary's on Sunday as he returned to his former club for the first time since his £75m move.

"He did really well, he dealt with the situation fantastically," Klopp said. "We had a little talk before the game and I asked: 'What do you think?'

"He said: 'No, I'm fine boss.' I don't want to make him nervous if he isn't nervous and, obviously, he wasn't and that's good.

"I understand everything in football; the crowd is there to make life difficult for the opponent but I think it was not too difficult for him from this point of view and I'm happy about it."

Struggling Southampton end the weekend back in the bottom three after their defeat followed wins for relegation rivals Swansea, Newcastle and Huddersfield.

There were boos from the home crowd at the full-time whistle, while manager Mauricio Pellegrino was also jeered for some of his tactical decisions during the game.

The Saints boss empathised with the supporters and feels they need unity to climb out of their perilous position.

"It's really difficult to ask for more support than this in this situation,'' the Argentine said.

"I have to be grateful with the fans for respecting the players until the end.

"We have the same feelings right now. We are responsible for this. I am the first responsible for this.

"Southampton, we are together. But this is the competition. The competition, sometimes you are in a difficult situation.''

Saints did have chances to level at 1-1 with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and James Ward-Prowse each denied by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius, but they struggled to respond in a disappointing second period.

Asked if there was a lack of character in his squad, Pellegrino replied: "Obviously we are not happy with that, but my players are conscious that three points will change everything every single week.

"We have the capacity to try and fight. Everything is really tight.

"The team that is calm in the concept, brave in character and focused, is the team with more weapons to go up (the table).''

Press Association contributed to this report

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.

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