'One of the best saves I've ever seen' was how Rickie Lambert described Simon Mignolet's stunning reflex stop that ensured Liverpool began 2014-15 with three points against Southampton on Sunday.

With the Reds leading 2-1 at Anfield thanks to goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, the Belgian goalkeeper displayed lightning reactions to tip a close-range Morgan Schneiderlin blast onto the crossbar.

It proved crucial in determining the outcome of the contest, and afterwards Lambert was eager to highlight its importance.

"It was one of the best saves I've ever seen," he said.

"It was a fingertip save. It looked like it was definitely a goal and he's managed to push it onto the underside of the bar.

"It's little moments like that that make all the difference."

It proved a keenly-fought occasion on Merseyside as Liverpool were made to work hard for the win by a spirited Southampton.

After Sterling had opened the scoring, Nathaniel Clyne's Kop end drive brought the visitors level before Sturridge prodded home late on to restore Brendan Rodgers' side's advantage and, ultimately, clinch the points.

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"I don't think we played bad, it just wasn't as fluid as I know and everyone else knows here that Liverpool can be," Lambert considered.

"There were glimpses and I thought the first goal was excellent - a great pass by Jordan and a great finish.

"After some pressure from Southampton I thought we came strong. It was a really hard game. Southampton did really well and it was a great three points for us.

"Obviously, it's the first game and we're not going to be as fluent as we were at the end of last season, that will come.

"With it being the first game everyone's excited, everyone's nervous, everyone's desperate to win, and you're not sure how you're going to play. You're never quite as sharp as you want to be.

"The quicker you can get that first win, the better. It makes you calm, helps you get into your rhythm a little bit easier and a little bit faster.

"The most important thing is getting the first win under the belt. That's the perfect springboard to go into the next game. We've got a few hard games coming up."

It was a poignant afternoon for Lambert, who made his league debut for Liverpool as a second-half substitute.

The long-awaited landmark came against his former club, and the 32-year-old was afforded a special reception by the travelling supporters.

"It meant a lot," Lambert said. "Obviously, it was special from the Liverpool fans with me making my debut and realising a dream. And it was special from the Southampton fans too.

"I thought they showed a lot of respect to me and I really appreciate that.

"I tried to show it back when I left the pitch. I've got nothing but respect for Southampton and the fans especially."