Roberto Firmino’s bullet header shoots Liverpool clear at the summit
Jürgen Klopp’s side chased and harried Spurs from the start at Anfield
Roberto Firmino heads home Liverpool’s winner in the Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield. Photograph: Jon Super/PA Wire
Liverpool 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1
With a bullet header in the 89th minute Roberto Firmino downed Tottenham, took Liverpool back into familiar territory at the top of the Premier League and set off on a sprint down the length of the field to celebrate in front of a joyous Kop. A night of frustration for the Premier League champions had just become one for their rivals instead.
Until Firmino thumped home Andy Robertson’s corner this was proving a bad night for Liverpool as José Mourinho proved that Jürgen Klopp was correct in saying his rival had only reinvented himself on Instagram.
Spurs defended deep, defended well and equalised on the counterattack through Son Heung-Min . Hugo Lloris stood firm against a wasteful Liverpool attack but, at the last, he was beaten and Liverpool savoured what could prove an invaluable win.
Even by Klopp’s standards there was an eye-catching ferocity to Liverpool’s pressing as they harried Spurs from the first whistle. Mohamed Salah and Firmino closed down Eric Dier instantly when he received the ball on the edge of his own area.
Steven Bergwijn, starting on the left of a four-man midfield with Moussa Sissoko on the opposite flank, was dispossessed near the corner flag when Sadio Mané sprinted over to the right to shut off another exit. The front three set the tone, the midfield took control and the champions completely dominated until stung by Spurs’ first attack of the game in the 33rd minute.
First, however, they paid respect to Gerard Houllier following the sad passing of the club’s former manager at the age of 73. A picture of Houllier holding the Uefa Cup when the treble was completed in 2001 adorned the front cover of the programme. Banners carrying his name were draped across the Kenny Dalglish Stand and his name rang out from the Kop during a minute’s applause. He would have enjoyed what followed from Liverpool.
A busy first half for Lloris began when Firmino found himself free inside the area at an Andy Robertson free-kick. The Brazil international headed for the far corner but the Spurs goalkeeper sprung to his right to collect.
Salah should have done better with his first opportunity of the game, beautifully created by Jordan Henderson’s chip down the left and Robertson bursting clear of Serge Aurier, but shot straight at Lloris from the full back’s inviting cross.
He did find the net with his next chance, although helped by a good dollop of fortune along the way. Curtis Jones burst into the Spurs box after exchanging passes with Firmino. His run was halted by Aurier, but the ball broke for Salah whose shot deflected off a combination of Dier and Toby Alderweireld as they closed him down before looping in via the inside of the far post with Lloris stranded.
Jones could have doubled Liverpool’s lead moments later when he robbed Aurier inside the area but his low shot was too close to Lloris. It was the same story when Mané darted across the penalty area and fired straight at the France international.
Firmino, spinning on Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross, did at least extend the goalkeeper albeit with the same end result, Lloris flying to his right to parry.
The visitors created nothing during the opening third of the contest. They had incentive to do so with 19-year-old Rhys Williams deputising for the injured Joel Matip in central defence, but rarely retained possession long enough to get players into the Liverpool half to test him.
And then, out of nowhere, Spurs were level. Giovani Lo Celso crafted the equaliser with a fine run through central midfield and even better pass to release Son down the left. The South Korean oozed confidence as he closed in on goal and gave Alisson the eyes before sweeping a convincing finish past the Liverpool goalkeeper. VAR reviewed a possible offside against the striker but forensics did not kill the joy on this occasion.
Spurs were more enterprising after the restart. Only 25 seconds had elapsed when Bergwijn broke clear after Williams failed to intercept Alderweireld’s raking ball out of defence.
To Mourinho’s obvious disgust, the midfielder sliced his shot across Alisson and wastefully wide. Harry Kane also had two attempts from distance, the first forcing Alisson into evasive action after his poor clearance had been intercepted by the England captain, before Bergwijn squandered another opportunity to edge Spurs ahead.
The Netherlands international found himself through on the left again after Kane and Son headed on a Lloris clearance. This time he connected cleanly, only to see his shot strike the base of the far post and rebound off Fabinho for a corner. Liverpool’s reprieve was not over. From the resulting delivery by Son, Kane found himself with a clear header on the six-yard line having backed away from Henderson. He completely fluffed it.
Kane’s miss would have assumed greater significance had Liverpool’s clinical touch not deserted them. Firmino and Salah both shot straight at Lloris when well placed while Mané was unfortunate when, having turned Aurier inside the area, his angled drive smacked the crossbar thanks to a slight touch off the defender. – Guardian