Daniel Sturridge double sinks Tottenham Hotspur

Pochettino and Klopp name youthful sides as Liverpool reach League Cup last eight

Daniel Sturridge scored twice as Liverpool beat Spurs at Anfield. Photograph: Reuters

Daniel Sturridge scored twice as Liverpool beat Spurs at Anfield. Photograph: Reuters

 

Liverpool 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Jürgen Klopp has made no secret of his desire to go one better than last season in the League Cup and Liverpool remain on course to fulfil their manager’s wishes at Wembley. A Daniel Sturridge double secured the 2016 runners-up a quarter-final place as Tottenham Hotspur’s winless run stretched to four games in all competitions.

Both Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino rang the changes at Anfield but only the home side retained quality and cutting edge in attack, a point hammered home to the Spurs manager when young substitute Shayon Harrison mis-controlled a glorious chance to level in the dying moments.

Sturridge has had to be patient in the Premier League with Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mané driving Liverpool to joint-top but the striker pounced quickly on his opportunity in the EFL Cup. There was an eagerness to impress throughout the home side, debutants and experienced internationals alike, and a similarly enterprising approach from a youthful Spurs side made for an open, flowing contest.

Not that the unfortunate Georges-Kévin N’Koudou will want to recall his first significant contribution to his first start for Pochettino’s team. The 21-year-old French midfielder slipped as he attempted to collect a headed clearance from Ben Davies and was punished brutally.

Marko Grujic, Liverpool’s highly rated Serbian midfielder, was first to the loose ball and drove into the visitors’ penalty area where his low cross deflected off Kevin Wimmer into the path of Sturridge. The England international reacted quicker than anyone in white, and goalkeeper Michel Vorm, to flick home his first goal at Anfield since the Europa League semi-final defeat of Villarreal on 5 May. Sturridge almost doubled his and Liverpool’s tally with an audacious attempt from the corner of the penalty box moments later but Vorm tipped over.

The contest may have had a heavyweight feel thanks to the names of the clubs rather than the players on display – Eric Dier, Tottenham’s captain for the night, was the only one of the 22 to also start in the Premier League at the weekend – but did not lack for incident. Spurs’ build-up play was impressive but with Vincent Janssen continually looking off the pace their prospects of drawing level before the interval diminished. The contrast in the sharpness of the two strikers, Janssen and Sturridge, provided a fair explanation for the half-time scoreline.

Klopp had not intended to make 11 changes from the side that beat West Brom on Saturday but illness and precaution against a few knocks dictated otherwise. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ovie Ejaria would have started regardless and both looked at home on the Anfield stage, the former providing a determined outlet from right-back and the latter becoming more composed in midfield as the game wore on.

Sturridge squandered an excellent chance for a second when Liverpool broke through Divock Origi. The Belgium international appeared to have wasted the counterattack by running into a crowd of Spurs defenders but the ball broke loose for his strike partner who, with time and space to pick his spot, shot tamely straight at Vorm. Grujic was inches away from extending Liverpool’s advantage when Ejaria and Sturridge combined to release the midfielder on the right. His low shot evaded Vorm but just missed the far post.

Spurs had their moments in the first half but Lucas Leiva, Liverpool’s captain in place of Jordan Henderson and makeshift central defender, thwarted Janssen with a well-timed challenge inside the area. Janssen did force a decent low save from Simon Mignolet on the goalkeeper’s return to the Liverpool team but headed his best chance high over the bar from a Kieran Trippier free-kick. Mignolet should have at least been made to work.

Alexander-Arnold impressed defensively as well as in support of the Liverpool attack, showing the anticipation, pace and strength that has characterised the 18-year-old’s rise through the ranks to keep N’Koudou quiet. For the visitors, 20-year-old Harry Winks was a determined presence in central midfield but the Tottenham threat paled in comparison with Liverpool’s.

Origi unsettled the Spurs defence almost at will in the second half with his strength and movement. He created a glorious chance for Sturridge having broken away from Ben Davies but the goalscorer completely missed an inviting cross from the right and the ball rebounded to safety off his standing leg. Sturridge turned provider for Georginio Wijnaldum, who also miscued from close range, Vorm saved superbly from Origi’s long-range strike and Liverpool finally made their pressure count when they sliced through a weak visiting defence.

Liverpool’s second originated from a throw-in deep in their own half. Spurs challenges were non-existent as Origi drove forward and found Wijnaldum, who sent Sturridge sprinting clear of Wimmer’s desperate attempt to play offside. This time there would be no mistake from Sturridge and he applied a cool finish through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Spurs were handed a lifeline when referee Jon Moss penalised Lucas for a nudge in the back of substitute Erik Lamela inside the area. Janssen drilled the spot-kick down the centre of Mignolet’s goal and Spurs claimed for another when Lamela tumbled under an arm from Alberto Moreno. Moss was unmoved and Sturridge almost responded with a hat-trick in stunning style with a lofted flick that beat Vorm but struck the bar.

(Guardian service)

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