Report and free match highlights as Roberto Firmino seals late Liverpool victory over Tottenham; Heung-Min Son had cancelled out Mohamed Salah's deflected opener but Spurs' Anfield woes continue
Thursday 17 December 2020 07:09, UK
Roberto Firmino headed a 90th-minute winner as champions Liverpool edged out title challengers Tottenham to climb top of the Premier League with a 2-1 victory at Anfield.
Firmino escaped the clutches of Toby Alderweireld in the final minute of normal time to divert Andy Robertson's pin-point corner into the top corner with a bullet header that left Hugo Lloris with no chance.
The dramatic finale came just as Spurs looked to have secured a rare point at Anfield, with Heung-Min Son's clinical strike on the counter cancelling out Mohamed Salah's deflected opener in the first half.
Spurs had opportunities to strengthen their growing title credentials and end Liverpool's formidable home league record - which now reads 66 games unbeaten - but Steven Bergwijn hit the post and Harry Kane squandered a gilt-edged heading opportunity in the second half as their Anfield woes continued.
Liverpool: Alisson (8), Alexander-Arnold (6), Fabinho (8), R Williams (7), Robertson (8), Henderson (6), Wijnaldum (7), Jones (7), Salah (7), Firmino (8), Mane (7).
Tottenham: Lloris (6), Aurier (7), Alderweireld (6), Dier (6), Davies (6), Sissoko (7), Hojbjerg (7), Lo Celso (7), Bergwijn (6), Kane (6), Son (8).
Subs: Lucas Moura (5), Reguilon (5), Alli (n/a).
Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino.
After paying an emotional tribute to the late Gerard Houllier before kick-off, Liverpool embarked on a dominant first-half display that saw Spurs camped in their area and starved of possession.
The Reds nearly took the lead on 11 minutes when Roberto Firmino headed Andy Robertson's inch-perfect cross towards the far corner, but Hugo Lloris was on hand at full stretch to keep Spurs level.
Liverpool steadily ratcheted up the pressure and it almost told midway through the half, but Salah's crisp low drive at the end of an incisive attack was again kept out by Lloris.
The pressure eventually told on 26 minutes but there was an element of fortune to Liverpool's breakthrough. Curtis Jones drove into the box, offloaded the ball to Salah and his first-time strike took a wicked deflection off Toby Alderweireld before looping into the top corner of the Spurs goal.
Jones very nearly added a quick-fire second when he pounced on a defensive lapse from Serge Aurier, but Lloris spared his blushes, and Spurs soon took full advantage of the reprieve.
Out of nowhere, Giovani Lo Celso's excellent driving run and perfectly-weighted through pass release Son through on the Liverpool goal, and the South Korean capped a trademark Spurs counter with a clinical near-post finish past Alisson.
The goal stood after surviving a VAR check for a marginal offside, leaving Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp scratching their heads as to how they in front after seeing 80 per cent of the ball in the first period.
Mourinho tinkered with his formation at the break and it yielded an immediate upturn in Spurs' fortunes which Bergwijn should have capped within seconds of the restart, but he sliced a shot wide having outmuscled Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Kane then intercepted a wayward Alisson pass from the back and tried to punish the mistake with an audacious, long-range chip, but the Brazilian goalkeeper recovered in time to tip it behind.
Spurs' best opportunities came and went in a frantic second-half minute, with Bergwijn curling a shot onto the frame of the Liverpool goal moments before the unmarked Kane headed the resulting corner over from six yards.
That sparked Liverpool into gear, with Lloris required to tip a rasping Sadio Mane drive onto the bar as the Reds ramped up the pressure in search of a late winner.
And, with seconds remaining, Liverpool got the goal they and the 2,000 supporters inside Anfield were looking for as Firmino's stunning header nestled in the top corner and saw the champions strike a potentially telling blow in the title race.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "To play a game like this tonight is absolutely exceptional. It was a top game and we deserved three points against a top side who, organisation-wise were very difficult to play against with the counter-attacking threat they have. I liked the game a lot. I've got no problem scoring late if it is needed. We really deserved the three points.
"Of course Tottenham had chances, they scored a goal with an unbelievably tight offside decision - we are really not lucky with these decisions at the moment. They had other chances - you cannot defend Kane, Son, Bergwijn for 90 minutes, the speed they have is incredible.
"But around those moments we were completely in charge of the game, stayed concentrated and protected our attacks sensationally well, counter press was good, passing was good. Not all of our efforts led to a goal or a proper chance because they were deep in the box and defended all of the high balls.
"We needed to be creative and the boys were creative, stayed creative and then forced it. The first goal we forced a little bit and the second with the set piece is really nice because we don't have a lot of time to work on things and that worked out again."
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho: "I think even a draw would have left us not with the best taste because we had them there to win it. It was not just about the big chances, it was the moment of the big chances. The moment was when they were in trouble, in their worst moment, and we had it there to kill it and we missed it.
"Normally, in matches of this level, you pay [for] it. I thought we were going to pay [for] it by just taking a point, but in the end, we did not even take a point so it is very disappointing.
"Looking to the performance, I am happy with the team. I am happy with our proposal, the proposal of going to every match to win it. Sometimes you cannot do it. Sometimes you cannot play better than you did because of the opponent. Today, I really think, in such a difficult game against such a good team, the boys were very good and we are punished."
Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday at 12.30pm, before Tottenham host Leicester on Super Sunday at 2.15pm - live on Sky Sports Premier League.