Southampton are going to Wembley after beating Liverpool two-nil over two legs in the EFL Cup Semi Final. They are the first team to do so having not conceded a goal along the way despite facing severe defensive problems.
Shane Long's goal in added time earned the visitors the win on a night that they dug deep and shut out the club who had spent £100 million on acquiring their players over recent years.
The visitors came to Anfield defending a single goal advantage, thanks to Nathan Redmond's first round strike, and gave Liverpool nothing over 180 minutes of football. Few will argue that they didn't deserve their win.
A late scare saw academy starlet Jack Stephens let off for an apparent trip on Divock Origi in the box, with replays showing that the youngster failed to get a toe to the ball in the final minutes of the game. Neither did he touch the Liverpool forward though, who dived. Referee Martin Atkinson waved away the appeals, in front of a Kop who were baying for blood'. Saints broke down the pitch and sealed a famous win from the resulting corner.
After several desperate Liverpool shouts, including a questionable handball shout on Long, perhaps it was a case of crying wolf too many times, with Liverpool increasingly desperate as the tie approached the latter stages.
Where Saints had the best of the first half, Liverpool dominated the second with Fraser Forster clambering a Emre Can shot away at the second attempt in the 53rd minute. It was the only heart in mouth moment apart from Origi's late dive though.
Daniel Sturridge wasted two clear second half opportunities, acrobatically hooking a bouncing ball over from six yards out just after the hour mark, and stretching to volley James Milner's cross over moments later.
Philippe Coutinho, again poor for Liverpool, fluffed a cross when in the Saints box, hitting air rather than ball, with Liverpool struggling to really test Forster despite Virgil van Dijk being missing from Southampton's defence. Maya Yoshida and Stephens did excellently, and were calm, confident and brave all evening.
Saints were excellent in the first half, sitting back and countering through Jay Rodriguez and the excellent Redmond. Despite the hosts having the lion's share of possession, it was Southampton who had the best opportunities of the first 45 minutes.
Redmond was a menace down Liverpool's right hand side, linking up superbly with Ryan Bertrand and isolating Alexander-Arnold. Just ten minutes in, Redmond fed in Rodriguez, who, instead of shooting, turned into trouble. It was a sign of things to come.
England under 23 international Jack Stephens, in for the injured Virgil van Dijk, looked assured throughout the first half, but for one misplaced back pass that led to a Liverpool corner that came to nothing. Roberto Firmino, fed by Alexander-Arnold hit a shot straight at ]Forster twenty minutes in, and Coutinho fired another straight at the Saints' 'keeper, but Liverpool offered little threat.
The first golden chance came for Dusan Tadic in the 35th minute. Bertrand raced down the left, and fed Redmond who drove into the box. He fed Tadic, who slid a shot under Karius who was quick off his line, ]the ball catching the goalie's rear end and thus denying the Serbian.
Another gilt-edged chance arrived in similar fashion minutes later, with Redmond again causing trouble down the left flank and poking a ball into Steven Davis' path. The new new club captain showed no composure though, lashing a shot well over the bar with the sense building that Southampton were again wasting chances they could ill afford to.
The second half saw Long thrown on in place of the injured Rodriguez, but chances to break were few and far between in the second half.
Adam Lallana looked lively in stages, but only him and Alexander-Arnold really showed anything for Liverpool. Instead, Saints organised their rearguard expertly, as they have done against Liverpool over recent games, with Oriol Romeu outstanding in front of Saints' inexperienced back line. A new contract fully earned here and throughout this campaign.
Southampton sat deep, but it was Liverpool who grew nervous as the game wore on. Misplaced passes, poor decision making and a lack of courage gripped them and they did not deserve to win the tie.
So saints will head to Wembley on February 26th, their first since 1979. With Man Utd their likely opponents, who lead Hull two-nil,]; Saints will not fear anyone though, having beaten Premier League opposition all the way through the competition.
Next up are Arsenal in the FA Cup Fourth Round, with Southampton confident having won here and knocked them out in the EFL Cup earlier this season.
Liverpool: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Matip, Milner, Henderson, Can (Origi 78), Lallana, Coutinho (Wijnaldum 87), Firmino, Sturridge.
Subs: Mignolet, Moreno, Klavan, Lucas, Wijnaldum, Origi, Woodburn.
Saints: Forster, Cedric, Yoshida, Stephens, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse (Højbjerg 59), Davis (c), Tadic, Redmond (Sims 81), Rodriguez (Long 45).
Subs: Lewis, Clasie, Long, Martina, Hojbjerg, McQueen, Sims.