- Associated Press - Sunday, May 7, 2017

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) - James Milner’s perfect record from the penalty spot ended at a crucial time in the Premier League season for Liverpool in a 0-0 draw against Southampton on Sunday, damaging his team’s quest for Champions League qualification.

The left back scored from his first seven spot kicks this season but his eighth attempt was saved by Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster in the 66th minute of a lackluster game at Anfield.

“I can’t do more than hold my hands up and apologize to the boys,” said Milner, whose last penalty miss in the Premier League was in 2009.

The point lifted Liverpool back into third place above Manchester City, but this was a missed opportunity in its bid to finish in the top four and return to Europe’s elite competition next season.

Southampton defended deep and in numbers, and barely ceded a chance to a Liverpool side that played too narrow and was predictable going forward.

Liverpool has picked up only two points from its last three games at Anfield and is struggling without injured top scorer Sadio Mane.

The Reds have two games left, away to West Ham and at home to Middlesbrough, but can still be caught by City, Manchester United and Arsenal.

The penalty was awarded following a hopeful ball into the box, with Liverpool running out of ideas. Southampton center back Jack Stephens first held off Divock Origi, then connected with the falling ball as he moved his right arm.

Forster engaged in some gamesmanship before the penalty kick, talking in the ear of Milner and stamping near the penalty spot. The players were teammates at Newcastle and also know each other from time together in the England squad.

“I’ve been around long enough not to let that affect me,” Milner said of Forster’s antics.

Liverpool has played Southampton four times this season - twice in the league and in the two-legged League Cup semifinals - and didn’t manage to score in any of the games.

Southampton wanted to come here and somehow get a point, or more, and I’m fine with defending,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. 

“They did not create anything and we had a hard job to do. To play against 10 deep defending Southampton players is very difficult … it is a point more but doesn’t feel like that.”

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