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Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 20:42 GMT
Heskey ends Liverpool torture
Liverpool's El Hadji Diouf (left) and Southampton's Chris Marsden
Liverpool's Diouf (left) quickly closes down Marsden
Southampton 0-1 Liverpool

Liverpool and Emile Heskey defied their critics to earn an inspired victory at Southampton.

The Merseysiders adopted the philosophy of attack being the best form of defence, and duly won their first Premiership game in 12 attempts.

A relieved Heskey's winner broke a 19-game scoring drought and ended Southampton's unbeaten home record this season at a rain-lashed St Mary's Stadium.

20 secs: Saints keeper Niemi parries a powerful Riise free-kick
14: Heskey heads in to put Liverpool ahead

Liverpool stormed out of the traps and stunned the home team with some intense early pressure.

John Arne Riise's powerful left-foot shot after only 20 seconds could only be parried by Saints keeper Antti Niemi, who stood up bravely to block Owen's shot from the rebound.

Two minutes later the ever-alert Niemi impressively saved low to his right to keep out a snap-shot from Danny Murphy.

Owen shot just over the angle of the goal with an angled shot before Liverpool's pressure was finally rewarded.

We've beaten a very strong team on a high so it was six-pointer

Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier

Heskey won a free-kick on Liverpool's right and he was in the box to head Riise's ball low into the corner.

Southampton were firmly on the back-foot and Paul Telfer got in a vital block on a Riise effort while Niemi saved a Heskey shot when left exposed by the home defence.

The visitors had a stranglehold of the game which Southampton were trying to shake off but to little avail.

Jo Tessem shot immediately after the break signalled their intentions of forcing their way back into the match.

But Owen had a glorious chance to extend Liverpool's lead and give Gerard Houllier's team some breathing space.

A slick move by the Anfield outfit left him one-on-one with keeper Niemi only for the England striker to shoot wide.

Saints striker James Beattie, the Premiership's leading scorer with 15 goals this term, had few chances to add to his tally as Liverpool held on for a crucial three points.

Southampton: Niemi, Telfer, Michael Svensson, Lundekvam, Bridge (Delgado 80), Fernandes, Delap, Marsden (Anders Svensson 61), Oakley, Beattie, Tessem (Ormerod 61).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Williams.

Booked: Anders Svensson.

Liverpool: Kirkland, Carragher, Hyypia, Henchoz, Traore, Murphy, Gerrard, Diouf, Riise, Owen, Heskey.
Subs Not Used: Dudek, Smicer, Biscan, Cheyrou, Baros.

Booked: Murphy.

Attendance: 32,104

Referee: S Bennett (Kent).

BBC Five Live's David Oates
"Southampton were completely out of sorts"
Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier
"I want to dedicate the win to the fans"
Saints manager Gordon Strachan
"The better team won today"
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