Southampton’s match-winner Dejan Lovren had more than one reason to smile as he left Anfield having scored the only goal and escaped with not conceding a penalty.
The Croatia international struck in the 54th minute to end Liverpool’s 12-match unbeaten league run spanning this season and last.
However, the Saints – the last team to defeat the Reds in March – may not have won 1-0 had referee Neil Swarbrick had the benefit of television replays which showed the defender had brought down Daniel Sturridge in the first half.
That incident aside, however, Liverpool did not create nearly enough chances for a team who began the day top of the table.
On this evidence the return of the watching Luis Suarez, sitting out the final match of his ten-match ban, has come not a moment too soon.
Rodgers’ sprang a surprise in his line-up by experimenting in defence by selecting four centre-halves – arguably the strongest area of his squad – after naming Kolo Toure on the right and Mamadou Sakho on the left either side of the returning Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel.
Neither options at full-back looked a success in the first half, failing to supplement their defensive duties with anything approaching the usual attacking roles expected of that position.
Suarez looks set to return for the midweek Capital One Cup tie at Manchester United so this was Iago Aspas’ last real chance to impress following his summer move from Celta Vigo. The Spaniard is yet to score in five league games for his new club and the fact he lasted only 45 minutes told its own tale.
Raheem Sterling’s introduction for Aspas at half-time should have injected some life into Liverpool’s attack but it was the visitors who struck first in the 54th minute.
Lovren beat Agger to Lallana’s corner to head down and past Steven Gerrard on the goalline.