Harry Kane’s spot kick redemption earns Spurs a point
Striker misses one but scores another cancelling out Salah’s late goal in Anfield thriller
Harry Kane celebrates scoring Tottenham’s late equaliser at Anfield. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty
Jürgen Klopp sprinted towards the Kop in celebration of Mohamed Salah’s 21st league goal of the season. Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach, John Achterberg, tumbled on to the pitch with clipboard in hand. A decisive step towards Champions League qualification had been taken against Tottenham Hotspur in the 91st minute at Anfield. In the 95th, it was taken away.
Spurs departed with the point their second half recovery merited but only courtesy of a highly contentious penalty, their second of the game, when Virgil van Dijk was adjudged to have kicked Érik Lamela deep into stoppage time. Harry Kane had missed from the spot 10 minutes earlier but made no mistake with his unexpected opportunity to make amends.
Liverpool were livid at the delayed decision, given by the assistant after Jon Moss appeared to have allowed play to continue. An enthralling contest came to a dramatic and controversial climax and there was no disguising the happier manager on the final whistle. Mauricio Pochettino punched the air while Liverpool players berated the match officials.
In the sprint to seize the initiative there was a clear winner. Liverpool swarmed forward from the off, refusing to allow the visitors to settle and did to Spurs what they had done to Manchester United in midweek in making a swift breakthrough. The goal was a personal milestone for Salah and a moment to forget for Eric Dier. In attempting to assist Kieran Trippier and Davinson Sánchez in clearing up Sadio Mané’s dangerous flick to Roberto Firmino, Dier succeeded only in playing Salah clean through on the Tottenham goal. Salah, quickest to spot the possibility, burst ahead of Sánchez and convincingly beat Hugo Lloris with a cool finish into the bottom corner.
The finish and the celebration that followed were those of a player who finds the Kop goal as a matter of routine. It was the Egypt international’s 20th Premier League goal of his debut campaign at Liverpool, arriving in his 25th game. No Liverpool player has reached that tally faster in the Premier League era – and they’ve had a few good ones.
Pochettino started with a midfield diamond of Mousa Dembélé at the base, Dier and Dele Alli right and left respectively and Christian Eriksen at the tip. While it produced several neat exchanges, and regularly released Tripper or Son Heung-min down the right, it offered little in the way of chances, or protection against Liverpool’s relentless front three. Harry Kane was starved of service and contained by a Liverpool defence featuring Dejan Lovren, a player with a point to prove after his ordeal against Spurs at Wembley in October. The diamond was unsurprisingly tweaked at half-time. Eriksen shifted left, Alli advanced and the improvement was marked.
Liverpool could have established a more comfortable lead by then. The game flowed at pace throughout the first half, the hosts posing the greater threat only for a poor final ball to undermine their efforts. Mané was unable to pick out Firmino having dispossessed Sánchez on the touchline. In the final seconds of the half Mané repeated the trick, found Salah and burst clear into the area, but the return pass from the goalscorer was overhit, to Klopp’s obvious disgust. Firmino also sent a glancing header wide and Lloris saved from the commanding Van Dijk.
The Liverpool manager was also enraged at a ferocious tackle by Ben Davies, who took the ball and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the process. No sanction was given, but Alexander-Arnold went into the book when he returned the favour when challenging Davies for Alli’s searching ball down the left.
Alli was instrumental in turning the game Tottenham’s way after the interval. The visitors dominated possession and territory although were struggling to find a way past Loris Karius until Wanyama’s thunderbolt. Alli sent Son clear with an exquisite flick but the Liverpool keeper stood tall and blocked the shot, the England international driving the rebound wide from the edge of the area. Alli was then booked for simulation when he collapsed in the penalty area, looking for a Lovren tackle that never materialised.
Tottenham’s attacking impetus increased with Pochettino’s bold introduction of Lamela for central defender Sanchez. His second substitution, bringing on Wanyama for Dembélé, had a bigger and immediate impact. With his first touch the midfielder found Eriksen in space on the left. With his second he found the top corner from 25 yards. Eriksen’s first-time cross was punched straight out by Karius. Emre Can failed to clear, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain failed to react and Wanyama got there first to send an unstoppable finish beyond the Liverpool goalkeeper.
The drama had only just begun. Spurs were awarded a penalty with five minutes remaining when Kane rounded Karius and tumbled over the German stopper. The striker was in an offside position when Alli released him but the ball deflected off Lovren and, after a lengthy consultation with his assistant, Moss stuck to his original decision. Liverpool would argue justice done when Kane sent the spot-kick straight down the middle and Karius saved comfortably.
In the 91st minute Salah appeared to win the game for Liverpool with another moment of brilliance. From a throw-in on the right he somehow managed to wriggle away from Alli, Davies and Jan Vertonghen before prodding over Lloris from close range. The Liverpool bench went beserk. Klopp sprinted towards the Klopp in celebration but his next move along the touchline was a look of despair as Spurs were spared with a second penalty award in the 95th minute.
This time Kane made no mistake.