SUNDAY 31ST MARCH, 2019
LIVERPOOL 2(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1(0)
Alderweireld (o.g.), 90
Lucas Moura, 70
Referee:- Martin Atkinson
Assistants:- Stephen Child, Lee Betts
Fourth official:- Stuart Attwell
Liverpool (4-3-3):- Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson (Capt.) (sub Origi, 77), Milner (sub Fabinho, 77); Salah (sub Lovren, 90 +4), Firmino, Mane
(armband to Van Dijk)
Subs not used:- Mignolet; Keita, Lallana, Shaqiri
Spurs (3-4-3):- Lloris (Capt.); Alderweireld, Sanchez (sub Son, 69), Vertonghen; Trippier, Sissoko, Dele, Rose; Eriksen (sub Llorente, 90+1), Kane, Lucas Moura (sub Davies, 82)
Subs not used:- Gazzaniga; Foyth; Wanyama, Skipp
Booked:- Lucas Moura (foul on Salah)
Spurs lose their bonus
I said in my preview for this game that anything Spurs got would be a bonus, and until a last minute disaster when Lloris fumbled a Salah header, and the ball rolled into the net off the helpless Toby Alderweireld, it looked as if we might come away with at least a deserved draw. Spurs could have even had a win bonus had Moussa Sissoko put away his shot when he and substitute Son Heung-min broke clear from halfway. Sissoko hit his shot over the bar, and Spurs missed other opportunities too. The Kop and all those of a Liverpool persuasion at Anfield roared with delight at the win and breathed a hefty sigh of relief when referee Martin Atkinson eventually blew the final whistle after what turned out to be seven minutes of added time. Liverpool regained top place, but Manchester City play their game in hand on Wednesday.
Spurs have now lost four of their last five league games, and drew the other one. Somehow they still hold third place, but will probably be overtaken when Arsenal host Newcastle tomorrow. I do still fancy us to win a top four place, but it will require us to win our five home games to come, plus the game at Bournemouth in May. They certainly need to find the winning formula again.
Mauricio Pochettino went with a back three with Trippier and Rose playing the full back roles, and Sissoko and Dele inside the midfield four. Eriksen joined Harry Kane and Lucas Moura in the front three. Lucas was the only one of the starting eleven who had not been on International duty, and presumably was the freshest of the team. He certainly had his best performance for some time, playing some skilful football, and scoring the Spurs goal, which was a just reward for his efforts.
Spurs kicked off, and Danny Rose needed treatment in the early minutes of what was a high speed and competitive but fairly played match. Spurs had a bright start with Kane chesting a ball to Eriksen who sent Lucas Moura away towards the Kop End. Lucasís shot resulted in a corner, which was taken short by Trippier. On this occasion, Lucas failed to make decent use of the ball. The Brazilian showed skill in the middle before feeding the ball to Harry Kane on the left. Kane returned the ball and Lucasís shot was blocked with Sissoko hitting a shot wide from the free ball.
Spurs had a free kick just inside the Liverpool half, and typically (this frustrates the hell out of me) put themselves under pressure by moving the ball backwards, all the way to Lloris, before they lost the ball in their own half. The ball was sent to Robertson on the left and Trippier was in no-mans-land waving at Toby Alderweireld behind him while he (Trippier) failed to do his job and close down Robertson. Robertson was able to float in a lovely ball which Firmino met with a perfectly placed header past Lloris.
Now the home side had their tails up and put Spurs under pressure for a while. Robertson hit another cross. This was long and reached Alexander-Arnold on the other side of the Spurs defence. The right back hit a shot wide of Llorisís right post. Robertsonís next move was to pass to Wijnaldum towards the right of the Spurs area. He passed to Mane, who fired wide on the other side of Llorisís goal. Sanchez had to make a very good saving tackle inside the area when Salah received the ball.
At last Spurs got forward again and after 28 minutes, Trippierís cross was too high for Kane, but when Rose returned it from the left the ball was at least more dangerous as it crossed Liverpool area. There was more skill from Lucas as he passed to Dele, getting forward. Dele took a wall pass from Eriksen, but hit his shot wide of Alissonís left post.
The Liverpool triumvirate of Salah, Firmino and Mane combined before Mane hit a right foot shot wide. I was beginning to think we would do well to go in half time just one goal down, but before the break Lucas Moura fired wide at the end of a move he, Trippier and Eriksen had created.
Spurs were fired up by their managerís half-time talk. Remember, he had been serving the second of his two-matches ban and could not be in the technical area. After good determined work on the left flank, Danny Rose fed Eriksen but he did not make the most of his opportunity in the middle of the area, hitting his right foot shot over the target. Spurs kept Liverpool under a little pressure without managing to create a scoring chance, but at the other end Firmino headed over a Milner cross in front of The Kop. Spurs had another great chance as Rose passed inside to Kane who shot from the left of goal. Alisson could only parry the shot which fell to Eriksen, whose effort was blocked.
Salah made a bee-line for goal through the middle but his effort was blocked and cleared. Salah had another chance after 68 minutes. This came following a poor clearance down the line by Vertonghen with Alexander-Arnold sending the ball to Salah, but thankfully his shot was too high.
Spurs equalised following a quickly taken free kick, won and taken by Harry Kane near the halfway line. Kane sent the ball to Trippier, who advanced down the right and passed inside to Eriksen. Eriksen teed up Lucas Moura, whose shot took a deflection and also a touch (I think) by Alisson, but it still hit the net in front of the ecstatic away fans.
Hugo Lloris was required to stretch and push a shot by Alexander-Arnold over the bar. Jurgen Klopp made a double substitution with striker Origi replacing captain Henderson whilst Fabinho replaced Milner in the middle. Liverpool now had four up front and were clearly determined to regain their lead and wrest the initiative from their title contenders Manchester City. The ďRedsĒ had been defending in numbers at times, but now they sought to surge forward. At many corners they had the unsettling tactic of crowding Llorisís goal-line, and Spurs hadnít been at all comfortable with either these situations or the crosses of the full backs.
Lucas Moura got the only yellow card of the game when he unfairly halted another Salah run towards goal through the middle. The partisan crowd wanted more, but thatís all they got. Origiís free kick was blocked at the expense of another corner. Lucas was now replaced by Ben Davies, who took up full back duties, allowing Danny Rose to attack the left flank. After 84 minutes, both Son (who had earlier replaced Sanchez with Spurs reverting to 4-3-3) and Sissoko broke clear from the halfway line. Sissoko was on the left with Son to his right. You could almost see the fear and lack of confidence in Sissokoís face as he approached the point of decision. Do I shoot, or do I square the ball to Son? The opportunity to pass was being blocked so Sissoko went for goal, but tragically hit the ball too high. To say he should have scored and that Spurs should have had the lead is a gross understatement. Soon after that, with Spurs attacking in numbers again Danny Rose totally misjudged an intended cross, simply lobbing the ball hopelessly into the air.
Eriksen gave Dele a chance, but that shot went wide too. Now full time was approaching but Liverpool had a corner on the left, taken by Alexander-Arnold who hit the subsequent cross deep. It was Salah who headed goalward, and who was announced as the scorer, but the ball had been mishandled by Lloris and involuntarily put into his own net by Alderweireld.
Four minutes of added time were announced but that became extended due to treatment required by substitute Llorente and Fabinho. Salah also went off to great acclaim and was replaced by defender Lovren. The scoring was over and Anfield roared. They are sniffing a long-awaited title, which would be their first in the Premier League. City will take them all the way. As for Spurs, we face a fight now to keep a top four place.
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