Football Features

Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Takumi Minamino proved he is the embodiment of Jürgen Klopp’s “mentality monsters”

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 23:02, 17 May 2022

Takumi Minamino was a goalscoring hero as a much-changed Liverpool side beat Southampton at St. Mary’s.

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The win keeps the Reds’ title challenge alive until the final day of the Premier League season, although Manchester City hold a one point advantage the Reds will believe they can work miracles thanks, in part, to Minamino’s goal.

That’s the Takumi Minamino who was Liverpool’s top scorer in the EFL Cup with 4 goals and Liverpool’s top scorer in the FA Cup with 3 goals. The Reds won both competitions yet the man who did so much to get them there didn’t play a single second in either final.

“It’s a crime that Takumi Minamino doesn’t play more,” said Jurgen Klopp after the final whistle. And while that feels a little bit churlish given that it is well within Klopp’s powers to play Minamino more, it speaks to the mental strength of the Japanese international.

Having to watch almost every week from the sidelines as your team plays well, especially as last season you proved yourself while out on loan (at Southampton, amusingly enough), must be especially tough. But Minamino kept his focus.

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Both of Minamino’s previous Premier League goals came in the 77th minute of games that Liverpool had already won, against Arsenal in November and Brentford in January.

Minamino had played just 86 minutes prior to today where he managed the full 90 for the first time in the league this season. And it was a massive, much-needed 90. The kind of 90 that historic title wins are built on.

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Minamino worked his heart out for the Reds tonight, playing on the right he tracked back defensively and probed in attack. Linking with Roberto Firmino so smartly, Minamino created 1 chance, completed 1/3 take-ons, bagged a tackle, an interception and 2 clearances.

And of course, he scored the crucial equaliser. Joe Gomez pinged a delicious cross into the box and Diogo Jota controlled it leisurely and laid it off into the path of Minamino. The Japanese international controlled it, took it away from the defender and despite barely playing at all this season and having taken just 3 shots prior to today, absolutely leathered the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Alex McCarthy no chance of saving it.

This was a strike that would have made any goalscorer in Liverpool’s history proud. A thunderous blast that had massive repercussions, as it returned all the momentum of the match to Liverpool, and set the stage for Joel Matip’s second-half winner and the Reds’ continued involvement in the title race.

Who knows what would have happened to Liverpool if Minamino hadn’t been on hand to hammer that in? But he was on hand, and as such it is still possible that Liverpool pull off one of the most incredible and historic title wins in Premier League history.

Maybe play him more, Jurgen?