At the end of a long week of air miles and freak injuries, Liverpool mustered the energy to squeak over the line, with Adrián’s calamitous error ultimately only a footnote.
The keeper gave a spirited Southampton a lifeline after Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino earned a healthy two-goal cushion. Just as a tricky afternoon on little sleep and minimal preparation seemed to have turned into a breeze, Adrián’s clearance from a nonchalant backpass by Virgil van Dijk cannoned off Danny Ings’s shin and into the back of the net.
It was a mistake fit for an end-of-season blooper reel and it had shades of Alisson’s error against Leicester City last September, another game which threatened to run away from Liverpool.
It has not been a dull week for Liverpool or Adrián, who was left with an ankle “swollen like an elephant’s”, as Klopp put it, after a pitch invader ran on to join the Super Cup celebrations in Istanbul on Wednesday.
Liverpool did not arrive home until 4.30am on Thursday, with the Spaniard receiving treatment on the flight home before the squad reported for their sole training session ahead of this match six and a half hours later.
On Friday they boarded another flight, this time to Southampton. The travelling appeared to take its toll here, particularly in the first half, and Liverpool’s sloppiness was encapsulated by Adrián’s slip-up seven minutes from time.
“Sadio scored a fantastic goal in pretty much the last seconds of the first half and in the second half we made other big steps, controlled the game better, did a lot of good things but then minute 83 showed up on the screen and Adrian thought: ‘I played really well so I maybe I have to make the same mistake like Ali [Alisson] did’, and it kept the game a little bit open,” Klopp said. “Then they [Southampton] came up [the pitch] and Ings had a big chance and that’s normal. In that moment, I think the boys felt the tiredness. That was the moment: ‘Really? Now we have to go again.’ But we kept the result, I think we deserved the three points and I’m completely fine with that.
“I said to [Adrián]: ‘Well done. Ali did the same. It’s a goalie thing to do at Liverpool.’ But no problem if we win the games. We played too many balls back to him in this period. I was happy with all of the stuff he did, all of the saves. The other players needed to feel more the responsibility in the buildup. You cannot give all of the balls back to him and hope the painkillers still help.”