The Croatian centre back headed home Adam Lallana’s corner on 53 minutes to earn the visitors their first victory at Anfield for nearly ten years.
It was a professional performance from start to finish by Saints, who were co-incidentally the last team to beat the Reds with Liverpool having been on a 12 match unbeaten run going into this game.
The signs were good for the visitors who became the first team to restrict Brendan Rodgers’s side from scoring in the first half of a game this season, but it was the complete display from front to back that will have pleased Mauricio Pochettino the most, as Southampton were ruthless and dogged in their determination to earn a second win of the season.
Pochettino named an unchanged starting eleven for the visitors from the draw against West Ham United last time out.
That meant Morgan Schneiderlin lined up for his 200th career appearance with Saints. There was just one change to the squad, with Jack Cork named amongst the substitutes in place of Guly do Prado.
In the absence of Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool turned to former Celta Vigo man Iago Aspas in midfield, whilst centre back Daniel Agger - who scored the only goal of the game in this fixture last season – returned from injury to start in defence.
A bright and sunny afternoon greeted the teams onto the Anfield surface, on a warm day in the north west.
Saints got the match underway with Schneiderlin and Dani Osvaldo taking the first touches of the game from the centre circle, lining up in the changed strip of black shirts and white shorts for the first time in the league this season.
It was a competitive start to the game too, with the visitors causing an early nervous moment for the Liverpool backline thanks to the high pressing in attack led by Osvaldo. The ball broke back to Adam Lallana from distance, and the skipper attempted to divert the ball over the head of the stranded goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, but his effort just had too much on it.
The hosts broke up the other end almost immediately with Jordan Henderson arriving late on to Daniel Sturridge’s pass on the edge of the area, but his rising strike was at a comfortable height for Artur Boruc.
Henderson’s teammate, Lucas Leiva followed up soon afterwards with a strike from distance, but again, Boruc was equal to it.
After a spirited opening ten minutes, the contest began to settle down, with both teams playing neat possession football where possible.
Saints broke well again on 13 with a slick break that started with Lallana, who interchanged well with Osvaldo before sending in a cross which was flicked on by a Liverpool defender and ended up nestling at the corner flag where Mignolet rushed out to deal with just in time despite being under pressure from Osvaldo.
Rickie Lambert got his first sight of goal a few minutes later with an ambitious strike from range that flew wide, as an open start to the game continued.
The visitors maintained their pressure through the middle with Osvaldo once again showcasing a range of clever touches within his locker in the final third.
On 21 Boruc produced one of his very best saves from the top drawer to keep out Steven Gerrard’s well-struck free-kick from the edge of the area. The set-piece had been awarded after Jose Fonte had fouled Aspas.
Saints remained a serious threat to the hosts whenever they broke forward, and they created another good chance for themselves on 27 when Rodriguez found Osvaldo on the right side, but the striker’s finish could only find the side-netting.
Moments later, Clyne pulled away from his marker to get on the end of Lambert’s clever chip, but his cross back into the area was hooked away by a red shirt.
Luke Shaw thwarted Liverpool’s next attack with a no-nonsense clearance, as Daniel Sturridge began to make more of an impression the game. The in-form Reds striker was however guilty of going to ground too easily as the hosts looked for a penalty just past the half hour mark.
Liverpool ramped up the pressure though, and Victor Moses was the next player to work Boruc after he cut in from the left flank and past Schneiderlin to force a one-handed save at full stretch from the Polish shot stopper.
As the opening half came towards a conclusion there was still little to choose between the two sides, with Saints looking assured of themselves by withstanding the possession from the league leaders. Sturridge, who had scored in each first half of every game so far this season, looped a header over the top of Boruc’s crossbar at the end of the 45, but the two teams were inseparable heading into the break
HALF-TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-0 SOUTHAMPTON
Iago Aspas was withdrawn at the break for the hosts with lively winger Raheem Sterling taking the Spaniard’s place for the second half.
Saints created the first chance of the new period with Jay Rodriguez poking a low strike towards the near post which Mignolet got down to in the nick of time.
The visitors weren’t done there as they maintained a high line against Liverpool’s patient build-up from the back, which almost reaped rewards on 47 when Mignolet stumbled as he tried to take the ball around the advancing Lallana on the edge of the area.
After a series of lapses from the Liverpool defence which culminated in Kolo Toure’s pass out of play, Saints sensed an opportunity to pounce in the 53rd minute.
They took full advantage. A perfect out-swinging corner delivery from Lallana found Dejan LOVREN who powered a header back across, and into the goal despite the best efforts of Steven Gerrard who attempted to slide the ball away in vain.
The goal sparked wild celebrations in front of the travelling supporters as Lovren celebrated his first goal for the club in style by sprinting over to them, whilst the rest of the team jumped on top of him.
With Liverpool still reeling from the breakthrough goal, Osvaldo almost bent in a second for Saints moments later. The Italian took his time to find space before forcing Mignolet into a save at full stretch to deny the visitors a quickfire double.
The league leaders replaced defender Daniel Agger with Jose Enrique on 57 minutes to shore things up, but they were almost in at the other end soon after.
Moses went down under challenges from Lallana and Wanyama on the edge of the box. Gerrard stepped up again, and Boruc made another good low save to deny the England skipper down to his left.
On 66 Saints withdrew Lambert in favour of Steven Davis in order to add fresh legs to the forward line, but it was an unlikely source that almost doubled the visitors’ lead soon after.
Luke Shaw bamboozled his way through the Liverpool defence and managed to work Mignolet low down, with the follow up headed back towards goal by Toure, only for Mignolet to thwart an own goal and the on-rushing Jay Rodriguez in one fell swoop with a punch clear.
The play was now swinging from end-to-end as play opened out once more, and Saints were at their best defensively again to deny the hosts when Fonte headed away from a dangerous cross by Toure who had got the better of Clyne on the right.
Liverpool made their final change on 72 minutes with Luis Alberto replacing Martin Skrtel as Mamadou Sakho dropped back into defence.
With quarter of an hour to play, Saints brought on James Ward-Prowse in place of Lallana, with Jose Fonte taking over the skipper’s armband.
The hosts rushed a corner earned by Clyne’s misjudgement in defending on the byline, but Sturridge almost rescued the move by getting on the end of Gerrard’s pass, only to bend his shot over the bar.
Clyne was booked for holding onto the ball for too long in defence, but there was no element of time-wasting from the visitors who began to frustrate the hosts even further with a procession of calm possession football that the league leaders couldn’t get near in the closing stage of the contest.
Jack Cork came on for Rodriguez with two minutes remaining as Saints began to realise that a respectable win was within touching distance.
All three points were secured by the blast on the whistle from Neil Swarbrick after three minutes of stoppage time, as Saints recorded a deserved success against the Merseysiders.
FULL-TIME: LIVERPOOL 0-1 SOUTHAMPTON
Liverpool team: Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Mamadou Sakho, Martin Skrtel (Luis Alberto 72), Daniel Agger (Jose Enrique 57), Lucas, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard (c), Iago Aspas (Raheem Sterling 46), Daniel Sturridge, Victor Moses
Unused substitutes: Brad Jones (GK), Martin Kelly, Andre Wisdom, Jordon Ibe
Southampton team: Artur Boruc, Nathaniel Clyne, Jose Fonte, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Victor Wanyama, Morgan Schneiderlin, Adam Lallana (c) (James Ward-Prowse 75), Jay Rodriguez (Jack Cork 88), Rickie Lambert (Steven Davis 66), Dani Osvaldo
Unused substitutes: Kelvin Davis (GK), Gaston Ramírez, Calum Chambers, Jos Hooiveld
Referee: Neil Swarbrick