Football: Origi, Sturridge fire Liverpool into League Cup semis

Divock Origi celebrates with team mates after scoring the fourth goal for Liverpool.
Divock Origi celebrates with team mates after scoring the fourth goal for Liverpool. PHOTO: REUTERS

SOUTHAMPTON (AFP) - Divock Origi plundered a hat-trick and Daniel Sturridge claimed a brace as Liverpool came from behind to destroy Southampton 6-1 on Wednesday and reach the League Cup semi-finals.

Sadio Mane headed Southampton in front after 39 seconds, but Sturridge marked his first start since October 4 with a four-minute brace and 20-year-old Belgian striker Origi opened his Liverpool account with a treble as the visitors roared back, with substitute Jordon Ibe also on target.

The result continued the resurgence that has taken hold at Liverpool since the appointment of manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side have lost just one of the 11 games since he took over, winning seven of the last eight.

Liverpool fell to eventual winners Chelsea in last season's semi-finals, but with belief now coursing through the team again, their fans' thoughts will already be turning to the final on February 28.

Southampton had been bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1986-87, but dreams of a first major final since 2003 will now be put on hold until the FA Cup comes around in January.

Ronald Koeman's team were seeking a reaction to successive defeats by Manchester City and Stoke City and they wasted no time getting started at St Mary's.

After Dusan Tadic's shimmying had moved young Liverpool right-back Connor Randall out of the way, Ryan Bertrand curled a cross in from the left and Mane met it with a firm header into the bottom-right corner.

With jeers ringing in the ears of former Saints Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana, it threatened to be a long night for the visitors, but in the 25th minute they levelled.

Joe Allen's first-time pass over the top released Sturridge and although the striker's first touch allowed Steven Caulker to get back into position, he quickly shifted the ball onto his left foot and drilled home.

Cue the Sturridge wiggle - last glimpsed in the 3-2 home win over Aston Villa on September 26 - and four minutes later he was celebrating again.

This time Emre Can was the architect, catching the home defence square from mid-way inside the Southampton half with an exquisite 40-yard pass using the outside of his right foot.

Haring in at the back post, Sturridge met the ball on the half-volley and steered it beneath Maarten Stekelenburg.

Southampton felt they should have been given a chance to level shortly after when Tadic's volleyed pass struck Randall's arm, but referee Robert Madley was unmoved.

Liverpool extended their lead on the cusp of half-time, former Lille striker Origi getting the faintest of touches to Alberto Moreno's 20-yard drive for his first Liverpool goal on his 11th appearance.

Southampton switched to a back three at half-time, Victor Wanyama dropping back between the centre-backs, but although they initially succeeded in keeping Liverpool at arm's length, it did not last.

Sturridge departed just before the hour, with Ibe coming on, while Koeman threw on James Ward-Prowse and Shane Long.

Within minutes it was all over, however, as Origi lashed home from Ibe's pass and headed in a left-wing cross from substitute Brad Smith, either side of a drilled effort from Ibe.