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Hasenhuttl on tears after absence-ravaged Southampton beats Liverpool

Danny Higginbotham helps Ahmed Fareed recap Southampton's big victory over Liverpool that moved the Saints up to sixth and opened the door at the Premier League summit.

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was in tears at the final whistle of Southampton’s 1-0 win over Liverpool at St. Mary’s, the culmination of a surreal week for the Saints mastermind.

Hasenhuttl’s wife dealt with the scare of a false positive coronavirus test that forced the boss to manage Saints’ last match from home.

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Then starting goalkeeper Alex McCarthy tested positive for COVID-19 and a series of injuries forced Hasenhuttl to play a lot of kids against the Premier League champs.

And they beat the Liverpool side branded with its mental toughness.

“I think I started believing that we can do it in the 82nd minute, not earlier,” he said on NBCSN after the game. “The way we defended today was amazing. Everybody was the key of winning. The mentality was maybe even better than this Mentality Monster team. It was absolutely perfect day for us and for the Southampton fans out there.”

Saints were without Oriol Romeu, Jannik Vestergaard, Nathan Redmond, and Che Adams in addition to McCarthy.

Besides Yan Valery, Shane Long, and a relatively-experienced Will Smallbone, the club had Harry Lewis, Jake Vokins, Kayne Ramsay, Kgagelo Chauke, Dan N’Lundulu, and Nathan Tella on the bench.

Then Moussa Djenepo left the game with what Hasenhuttl described as an injury that is “not so good.”

That all led to his emotion on the touchline, and he explained more to ProSoccerTalk during his post-match video call with the media.

“We had so many injuries since yesterday and we bring in academy kids and still compete against such a team. The system works. We had to have the perfect gameplan today and luck. You can’t beat such a team without luck.”

Hasenhuttl still doesn’t want to talk about the table but he feels good to see his Saints in sixth place.

He called the three points against Liverpool “bonus points” after having lost all four of his head-to-head matches with Jurgen Klopp dating back to a 4-1 VfR Aalen loss to Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 German Cup.

“It feels fantastic,” he said. “The good thing is you don’t expect to take points against this team. Bonus points, and the win for the belief for the guys, because they are happy. ... Everything comes together and the belief to take this win. Until 70, 80 minutes you think we did a good job but winning is still a long way to go. And my history with Jurgen, I’ve never taken points. I was joking with him at the Premier League meeting that maybe I could once have a chance to take a point against you. It was a perfect evening. It’s not important if we deserve it or not. You take it.”

Saints host Shrewsbury on Saturday in the FA Cup before a surprise top six test at Leicester City on Jan. 16.

Follow @NicholasMendola