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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 December 2004, 18:23 GMT
Liverpool 1-0 Southampton
Florent Sinama Pongolle celebrates his goal for Liverpool
Liverpool made hard work of overcoming Southampton as they eventually won thanks to a winner from striker Florent Sinama Pongolle.

Pongolle angled home a first-time drive when he latched onto a slide rule pass by Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso.

Neil McCann had a shot parried away as Southampton grew in confidence with just a goal separating the two sides.

John Arne Riise thundered a shot against the crossbar before Liverpool saw out a nervy victory.

Liverpool were allowed to dominate from the opening whistle by Southampton who were more concerned at making sure they did not concede with striker James Beattie not even in the squad.

But the Anfield side struggled to get into their stride and make the most of their possession while wasting a glorious early chance to breach the visitors' defence.

Pongolle had a similar chance to the one from which he scored his goal only this time Steven Gerrard was the provider and the French striker found the side-netting with a rising shot.

Neil Mellor shinned a half chance just high as he attempted to guide a bouncing John Arne Riise cross towards goal.

Southampton duo Martin Cranie (left) and Rory Delap close down Liverpool's Luis Garcia
Southampton showed plenty of grit even though they lost

Southampton created a couple of scares at the other end with David Prutton powering a shot wide of Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek's left-hand post.

The Merseysiders suffered the setback of Steve Finnan being forced off with a nasty-looking injury before finally taking the lead just before the break.

Pongolle made no mistake when Alonso played him in and scored his fourth goal of the season.

But, despite dominating the game, Liverpool did not look assured and had to endure some nervous moments at the back.

Dudek failed to gather a cross which a Southampton player failed to get a touch on as it flashed across the home box.

Mellor forced visiting keeper Antti Niemi into saving his angled drive but Southampton grew in confidence as the anxiety started to build within the home crowd.

Neil McCann found some space on the left of Dudek's goal and forced the keeper into parrying a save from his shot.

Liverpool had the chances to ease to a win but Riise rattled the crossbar with a piledriver and an unmarked Luis Garcia headed tamely allowing Niemi to save late on.

Gerrard also went close and Riise had a penalty shout waved away prior to a relieved Anfield greeting the final whistle.

Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan (Diao 29), Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Luis Garcia (Hamann 87), Alonso, Gerrard, Warnock, Mellor (Nunez 68), Sinama Pongolle. Subs Not Used: Traore, Harrison.

Goals: Sinama Pongolle 44.

Southampton: Niemi, Telfer, Jakobsson, Higginbotham, Cranie, McCann, Prutton, Oakley (Anders Svensson 58), Delap, Ormerod, Blackstock (Phillips 65). Subs Not Used: Smith, Yahia, Folly.

Booked: Prutton, McCann, Jakobsson.

Att: 42,382

Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).

Interview: Southampton boss Harry Redknapp

Interview: Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez

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