Liverpool scored a fortuitous last minute winner to send them back to the summit of the Premier League.
A 2-1 victory over a strong Tottenham side puts them two points clear of Manchester City, who had briefly been top following their 2-0 win at Fulham yesterday.
This was not a pretty or classy win. This was a win characterised by drive, determination and sheer desire. Today’s win proves Liverpool have the mental attributes required to be crowned Premier League champions.
Liverpool take an early lead
It took Liverpool just 16 minutes to open the scoring. Jordan Henderson sprayed the ball out to the marauding Andy Robertson on the left hand-side, whose pinpoint cross was headed home by Roberto Firmino.
The delivery from Robertson was inch perfect, with Firmino simply required to apply the finishing touches. The hosts continue to dictate the game. The ball sat up nicely for Trent Alexander-Arnold, who couldn’t resist trying his luck. His well struck half volley whistled past the post. Despite the array of attacking talents in the Liverpool ranks, it was the Scottish fullback Robertson who posed the biggest threat going forward.
Another foray down the left wing helped set up a chance for Sadio Mané. The Senegalese international has been in a rich vein of form in the Premier League, but his effort was sent just wide.
Just after the half hour mark, the visitors threatened at last. A neat one-two between Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli created an opening for Spurs. The latter hit a terrific strike from outside the box, but too high to trouble Allison in the Liverpool goal.
The two sides went in at 1-0 after an engaging opening 45 minutes. Spurs had looked sharp at either end of the half, but the hosts had capitalised during their spell of dominance to take the lead.
A second goal was definitely going to be needed to calm Liverpool nerves, especially with the prowess Tottenham possessed going forward. The second half picked up where the first half left off.
A well-worked corner between Alexander-Arnold and James Milner caught the Tottenham defence off-guard. Milner sent in a deep cross, but Virgil Van Dijk couldn’t keep his resultant header down.
Minutes later, the visitors created their best opportunity of the game. Harry Kane worked his way into the box and found a yard of space to get a shot away. His effort was parried by Allison, straight into the path of Eriksen.
It looked as if the Dane needed to just pass the ball into an empty net, but Robertson was on hand to make a crucial last ditch block. On 70 minutes, Tottenham’s pressure and persistence was rewarded. Harry Kane took a quick free kick, superbly switching play to Kieran Trippier deep inside the Liverpool half. The right-back rolled the ball across the box to Eriksen, whose one touch sideways pass found Lucas Moura.
The Brazilian smashed the ball home from close range. It was all about the intelligence of Kane, whose vision and quick thinking carved open the Liverpool defence. Liverpool pressed desperately for a winner. Alexander-Arnold cut inside and his cross-come-shot was tipped over the bar by Hugo Lloris.
Alexander-Arnold caused Tottenham further problems from an in swinging corner. His well struck set piece was flicked on by Van Dijk, but Firmino couldn’t sort his feet out, and the ball rebounded harmlessly into the arms of Lloris.
With Liverpool throwing men forward, Tottenham caught them on the counter attack. A fantastic Kane pass sent Sissoko and Son away with just Van Dijk to beat. The Dutch centre back intelligently showed Sissoko onto his left foot, and the Spurs man could only blaze the ball well over. A glorious opportunity wasted. Moments later, Dele Alli curled an elegant effort just wide.
Liverpool capitalise on missed Tottenham opportunities
Spurs were to pay for their missed chances. Alexander-Arnold floated a deep cross towards the back post, which was headed goal wards by Mo Salah. Lloris palmed the ball onto Toby Alderweireld, and the ball trickled over the line to the delight of the Kop. Question marks over the goalkeeping, but the sort of fortune teams need if they are to win the league.
A nail-biting four minutes of frantic defending ensued. But Liverpool hung on to secure a huge victory, sending them two points clear of Manchester City, although the blues still have a game in hand.
This was not Liverpool at their best, by any stretch of the imagination. But they did what champions do: they dug in, they bounced back, and, thanks to a little bit of luck, they ground out the win.
Tottenham still have a part to play in the title race themselves. They travel to the Etihad Stadium in April, three days after their Champions League semi-final at the very same place. City will then visit Old Trafford four days later, in what could be a defining week in their season.
This weekend’s action proves slipping up is no longer an option. We have one hell of a title race on our hands.