Southampton Under-23s made a perfect start to the Premier League 2 season, as they thumped their Liverpool counterparts 4-1 away from home.
Saints dominated proceedings at Prenton Park, capping their play with a couple of spectacular goals in the process.
The game had nearly started badly, however, but Harry Lewis made an excellent save in the first minute, after the ball was worked to Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn in space at the back post.
After Marcus Barnes had a 20-yard effort saved by Reds keeper Kamil Grabara in the fifth minute, the hosts went close at the other end when Adam Phillips hit a side-footed volley over the bar from ten yards out.
From then on, though, it was all Saints, with the visitors grabbing the lead in the 12th minute, as a nice move down the right sent Yan Valery into space, and he crossed for Josh Sims to convert.
It wasn’t long until it was 2-0, with Jake Hesketh producing a goal of the season contender on the opening day, firing in an astonishing long-distance strike that hit the underside of the bar on its way in.
Liverpool did halve the deficit ten minutes from the break, when captain Harry Wilson’s delicate cross from deep picked out Danny Ings, who prodded it past Lewis in the Saints goal.
In the closing stages of the half, Southampton went close to restoring their two-goal advantage, through a counter attack that led to Hesketh finding Sims, whose effort was saved.
They did get the third in the 52nd minute, though, as Thomas O’Connor’s dangerous corner led to a scramble in the box, and Olufela Olomola showed excellent desire to pounce and fire home from close range.
Olomola then got Saints’ fourth, through what was another brilliant goal. Sims went on a powerful run down the right wing and sent in a low delivery that worked its way across the area to Olomola, who whipped a glorious shot back into the far top corner.
Saints continued to control the game the rest of the way, as they made a thoroughly impressive start to the new campaign.