The Brazilian playmaker scored a brilliant goal after just three minutes, while the England international wrapped up all three points for the Reds in the second halfA stunning Philippe Coutinho goal set Liverpool on their way to a 2-0 victory over Southampton at a wet and windy St Mary's on Sunday.
The diminutive Brazilian fired an effort into the top corner from 35 yards in third minute amid a frantic start, before Raheem Sterling wrapped up the victory with a calm finish in the second half.
|VIEW FROM ST MARY'S
|By Greg Stobart
On a bitterly cold, wet and windy day on the south coast, the Liverpool supporters bounced up and down in the away end like they couldn’t care less.
A season that looked on the brink of falling apart at Christmas could end with a second successive top four finish as the Reds march towards the Champions League places.
They rode their luck, certainly, and Southampton will be furious that they were denied at least two clear penalties by referee Kevin Friend. The officials were booed even more than former Saints Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren on their return to St Mary’s, but Southampton will rue their lack of cutting edge.
Liverpool certainly didn’t have that problem and scored with two ruthless finishes from Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling when they created barely any other chances of note.
Filip Djuricic was handed a first start in attack for Southampton, who welcomed back defender Matt Targett and midfielder James Ward-Prowse.
A hip injury to Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho meant Dejan Lovren joined Adam Lallana in starting against his former club, while Sterling replaced Daniel Sturridge.
Djuricic was immediately into the action, going down under pressure from Emre Can in the penalty area after 20 seconds, but referee Kevin Friend was unmoved.
Liverpool responded to that uncertain opening by stylishly grabbing a third-minute lead when Lazar Markovic fed the ball to Coutinho, who netted superbly from range via the underside of the crossbar.
There was more frustration for Southampton as another challenge on Djuricic inside the box, this time from Joe Allen, went unpunished and Simon Mignolet made a fine save when the loose ball broke to Eljero Elia.
Friend provoked further ire from the home support two minutes before half-time when Mignolet was not punished for handball, despite charging down Elia's effort from marginally outside his area.
The Belgium goalkeeper then beat away a Djuricic strike to ensure Liverpool's advantage remained intact at half-time.
Having seen his defence under sustained pressure, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers sent on Alberto Moreno in place of Markovic at left wing-back, while Morgan Schneiderlin replaced Steven Davis for Southampton.
Graziano Pelle scuffed wide from 20 yards following a slick passing move as the hosts remained on the front foot.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman introduced Sadio Mane in place of Ward-Prowse and the forward had a shot on the turn blocked by Martin Skrtel as the hour approached.
Sturridge bolstered the Liverpool attack in place of Lallana and some wonderful skill from the England man beat Jose Fonte before he failed to get a shot away.
Rodgers' men then sealed the points when Targett lost his footing in trying to clear Moreno's low cross and Fraser Forster could only touch Sterling's firm low strike into the net.
In the closing minutes, Sturridge twice came close to getting his name on the scoresheet, but his misses mattered little come the final whistle.