Spurs run imperious Liverpool close after stirring second half effort
Tottenham 0 Liverpool 1
Spurs shook off the defensive mindset of the first half to give runaway league leaders Liverpool a scare at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
They carved out chances to deny the Reds another win on their relentless march towards a first title in 30 years, but Roberto Firmino’s 37th minute strike settled the outcome.
Jose Mourinho set up his side to contain and hit the visitors on the break, but they had to show greater adventure to try and get back into it after falling behind and they almost managed to plunder a draw.
Had either Heung Min Son or sub Giovani Lo Celso showed more composure when presented with gilt-edged chances, it could have ended in parity.
Given that only Manchester United have so far been able to deny Liverpool a win in 21 Premier League fixtures,that would have been a decent achievement. That is especially true considering the absence of Harry Kane, who is out until April because of a hamstring injury.
Liverpool were imperious during the first half and by surrendering the initiative, Spurs hardly got a kick.
They survived a couple of scares, with impressive Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga clearing off the line from Firmino and having their post hit by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the follow up, while Paulo Gazzaniga made a superb point-blank save to keep out a header from Virgil Van Dijk.
But they trailed when Mo Salah wriggled free of markers in the box to slide a ball through to Firmino, and after the Brazilian had dropped a shoulder to throw Tanganga off the scent, a firmly struck left-foot shot flew past the Tottenham keeper’s left hand.
There was a VAR delay before the goal was confirmed – a possible handball the issue - although Spurs argued they should have had the throw-in which was awarded to the Reds in the build-up.
Jose Mourinho said he could take great heart from the second half display, as Spurs shook off their passivity to cause Jurgen Klopp’s men problems. Son skied over from inside the box when he should have done better – Lucas Moura having created the opening after Lo Celso had disposseed Georgino Wijnaldum.
But home fans thought they were about to witness a great recovery when Lo Celso connected with a perfect low cross to the far post from Serge Aurier.
It flew wide when it should have bulged the net, but if there can be such a thing as an okay home defeat, this was it.
Tottenham: Gazzaniga – Tanganga, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose (Lamela 69) – Aurier, Winks, Eriksen (Lo Celso 69), Son – Dele Alli – Moura. Subs not used: Vorm, Vertonghen, Dier, Sessegnon, Skipp