Jurgen Klopp still waiting for first Liverpool win after Sadio Mane sucker-punch
Jurgen Klopp is still searching for his first win as Liverpool manager after his Premier League home debut ended in another frustrating 1-1 draw.
Substitute Christian Benteke looked like he had settled a turgid encounter at home to Southampton with a thumping 77th-minute header.
Klopp was four minutes away from joining Rafael Benitez, who in 2004 was the last manager to win his first Anfield league game, when Sadio Mane forced home from close range, only to spoil his afternoon by getting sent off for a second yellow card in added time.
The German has stressed the need for patience as time is needed to implement his ideas, but there was no holding back in the way he celebrated Benteke’s goal, wheeling away on the touchline in a show of unbridled emotion.
It was not to last, however, and a third successive draw, following a 0-0 at Tottenham last weekend and a 1-1 at home to Rubin Kazan in midweek, shows there is still plenty of work to do.
What will help his cause, though, is being able to pick Benteke, the striker his predecessor Brendan Rodgers pushed so hard for the club to sign in the summer, on a regular basis now the Belgium international is fully recovered from his hamstring injury.
If Klopp can find a way of keeping Daniel Sturridge injury-free – the England striker was again left out as he is still struggling with a swollen knee and has yet to feature for the new manager – he may have room for manoeuvre.
But while his side remain short of firepower up front and still susceptible to conceding soft goals there will be more moments like this.
There was little to choose between the two teams, who both employed similar styles which cancelled each other out in the pressing departments.
At half-time former Liverpool defender-turned-television pundit Jamie Carragher summed up how much work Klopp still has to do when he said: “He has come in wanting to play heavy metal football but for two-and-a-half games now it’s been a church choir.”
There was little to speak of in the opening 45 minutes, aside from Simon Mignolet clawing away Virgil van Dijk’s free header just before the break.
Benteke replaced Divock Origi for the second half and immediately Liverpool had more presence up front but they still could not make it count.
Moreno, who earned the second-loudest cheer of the afternoon after recovering at least five yards on Mane to put in a goal-saving tackle, drilled a shot across the face of goal from the narrowest of angles, but it was left to the big man to make the breakthrough.
James Milner swung a cross in from the right and Benteke rose highest to power a header into the top corner.
Joy and relief exploded around Anfield but Liverpool’s celebrations were cut short when Mane bundled home the equaliser at the far post after the hosts failed to defend a late free-kick.
The goal continued Southampton’s unbeaten record away from home in the Premier League, even if Mane was not there at the end to celebrate it having been shown his second yellow for tripping Moreno.