Mark Hughes admitted Saints were well beaten by a rampant Liverpool side but ‘didn’t give themselves a chance’ of getting a result at Anfield.

Saints were defeated 3-0, and conceded all the goals in a disappointing first half .

As well as an unfortunate own goal they allowed a free header from a corner and then were second to react to a quality free kick that Liverpool bundled home.

The second period became solely about preventing a bad situation getting worse, which they were able to achieve, with the damage already done.

Hughes said: “We faced a quality side and we aren’t the first and won’t be the last who can’t cope with the attacking threat they have.

“I have to say we didn’t really give ourselves a chance in the opening period.

“We were a little bit too easy to create chances against and we were unfortunate with the opening goal, an own goal, with a ricochet off a couple of players. You want to start well when you come to a place like Anfield and that was a setback.

“We conceded again from a set play. It was a good header from the lad but we are disappointed we are not getting first contacts on balls at the moment and that needs to improve.

“The third goal obviously took the game completely away from us. A free kick on the edge of the box and you hold your hands up, good quality, and a Liverpool player is first to react to bundle it over the line.

“Then it’s 3-0 which I thought was harsh I have to say. I thought we had good moments in the first half and created good moments in wide areas, got people free and had opportunities to pick people out in the box but didn’t take them but always looked a bit vulnerable on the break every time Liverpool attacked us.

“Second half was clearly a damage limitation exercise from our point of view.

“I made a little bit of a change tactically and I felt that helped keep us in the game but clearly we were never going to test Liverpool at that point.”

The nature of Saints’ second half performance at least ensured they left Anfield with a little pride restored.

“We were 3-0 down at half time and there is a danger you go completely under and that would have damaged us even more than the 3-0 performance in the first half,” reflected Hughes.

“We avoided that because we stuck at it, stuck in the game and tried to do the right things and saw the game out in the second half.

“You can argue that maybe Liverpool took their foot off the gas, which I acknowledge, but we still had to remain in the game, keep vigilant and make sure we got blocks in when they created moments.

“In the end we take a little bit of comfort from the second half performance in terms of not going under but clearly the damage was done in the first half.”