Tottenham Hotspur vs Liverpool. Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur StadiumAttendance45,421.
Report and free highlights as Spurs and Liverpool play out a game for the ages; Kane gave Spurs lead before Jota levelled in 100mph contest; Robertson put Reds 2-1 ahead before Alisson blunder gifted Son equaliser; Kane could have seen red for foul on Robertson, who was sent off himself
Monday 20 December 2021 12:19, UK
Liverpool and Tottenham served up one of the most electrifying Premier League games in recent years in a 2-2 draw which sees Jurgen Klopp's side drop three points behind leaders Manchester City.
On a weekend where Covid postponements decimated the Premier League programme, fans were treated to a thriller in north London, described by Gary Neville as "one of the best games I've ever seen," an exhilarating contest that resembled a basketball game as both sides went full throttle.
Harry Kane gave Spurs the lead with a clinical finish from Tanguy Ndombele's excellent through ball (13), one of many clear-cut openings for the hosts in an end-to-end first hour where both Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli missed big openings.
Liverpool's defence may have looked suspect, but their attack was as blistering as ever, with Diogo Jota levelling with an outstanding header via Andrew Robertson's cross (35), and few could have complained if the score had been 4-4 at the break as the visitors too spurned big chances.
As well as goalmouth action there was controversy; Liverpool felt Kane should have been sent off for a studs-up challenge on Robertson, but he only saw yellow, while the visitors also wanted a penalty for Emerson Royal's nudge on Jota at 1-1. Jurgen Klopp was eventually booked for his protestations.
The drama did not stop in the second half - Kane fluffed two major chances in the first 10 minutes - before Liverpool took a controversial lead through Robertson's header (70), with Spurs claiming Mohamed Salah handballed in the build-up. Spurs did not cower, however, and levelled instantly though Son, who rolled into an empty net after Alisson had inexplicably let a through ball between his legs (74).
The energy then boiled over as Robertson kicked through Emerson near the touchline, at first seeing a yellow that was then upgraded to a red after VAR asked referee Paul Tierney to consult the pitchside monitor (77).
The result, paired with Man City's 4-0 win at Newcastle, means Liverpool are three points off the leaders as the league approaches the halfway stage, while Spurs sit seventh, six points off fourth-placed Arsenal but with three games in hand.
Tottenham: Lloris (7), Emerson Royal (5), Dier (7), Sanchez (7), Davies (6), Ndombele (7), Winks (8), Alli (7), Sessegnon (7), Son (7), Kane (7)
Subs: Skipp (6), Moura (5), Reguilon (NA)
Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (8), Konate (6), Matip (6), Robertson (7), Milner (6), Keita (6), Morton (6), Jota (8), Salah (6), Mane (6)
Subs: Firmino (5), Tsimikas (NA), Gomez (NA)
Man of the match: Diogo Jota
Due to Covid issues, this was Spurs' first match in a fortnight, while Liverpool were on a six-game winning streak, and amid a concerning feeling across the Premier League as to how many more games will be postponed, both sides served up a much-needed classic.
The first chance came after 50 seconds as Robertson headed Trent Alexander-Arnold's dinked cross wide, and the drama never once waned in a breathless first 45 minutes.
Alexander-Arnold, fresh from his stunning long-range goal against Newcastle, stung the hands of Hugo Lloris from 25 yards with his weaker left foot, before Spurs found rhythm and repeatedly exposed Liverpool's high back-line.
The outball from Spurs' midfield was on every single time for runners Son and Kane. The latter was found in the box by Emerson, but his turn and shot was brilliantly blocked by Ibrahima Konate.
But seconds later Kane did get his goal, as Ndombele, making his first Premier League start in two months, found a gap in the Liverpool defence to find Kane in the box. Kane let the ball drift across his body, and found the bottom corner for his first Premier League home goal of the season.
It should have been a wake-up call for Liverpool, but it simply did not register. Kane broke on the right and had Son free in the middle, but the South Korea forward's effort on the stretch bobbled wide, with the goal at his mercy.
Spurs could have gone down to 10 men as Kane's studs caught the ankle of Robertson, but Tierney showed a yellow and VAR did not intervene. "He's a lucky boy," said Gary Neville on commentary.
Spurs kept coming and should have doubled their lead through Alli, making his first Premier League start since being subbed at half-time in the defeat at Arsenal in September. Found by Son's intelligent pass, Alli's effort was brilliantly tipped behind by Alisson.
Liverpool punished Spurs moments later, showing their deadly edge, as Jota equalised. Robertson took over the ball on the left of the box, lifted a ball up for Jota, and the Portugal international steered a wonderful header back where it came from, leaving Lloris rooted.
It was "the best 35 minutes of Premier League football this season," said Neville, and more was to come. Jota was nudged in the box by Emerson - Tierney waved play on - and Liverpool boss Klopp was subsequently booked for his protests.
Alexander-Arnold's first-time, controlled volley at the far post was saved by the knee of Lloris, and as the half-time whistle went, the 1-1 scoreline told barely any of the magnificent story.
The second half promised much and did not disappoint, with both sides exchanging more chances. Behind the Liverpool defence, Alli unselfishly squared for Kane, but did not quite get his pass right as the England striker was denied by Alisson, before Kane missed another big chance, heading over at close-range from a flicked-on corner.
Spurs made five changes from their last game a fortnight ago against Norwich; Emerson Royal, Tanguy Ndombele, Harry Winks, Dele Alli and Ryan Sessegnon came in, replacing the benched Tanganga, Skipp, Lucas Moura and Reguilon. Hojbjerg was unavailable.
It was Sessegnon's first Premier League start since January 2020, Ndombele's first for nearly two months, Dele Alli's first for nearly three months.
Liverpool made three changes from the 3-1 win over Newcastle; Oxlade-Chamberlain dropped to the bench while Henderson and Thiago were out completely, replaced by James Milner, Naby Keita and 19-year-old Tyler Morton, making his first Premier League start.
Van Dijk, Fabinho and Jones weren't in the squad again having tested positive for Covid in the week.
There was a lull in the game, but it lasted all of 10 minutes as Liverpool took the lead with 20 minutes to go, and it was not without controversy. Salah's far-post header from a Jota cross was hooked clear by Lloris, but Spurs felt Salah had handballed. Alexander-Arnold took over, delivered back into the box, and Robertson stooped low to head home. VAR had a look, and the ball did strike Salah's arm, but it was deemed unintentional.
Spurs instantly levelled as Alisson rushed out to clear a through ball for Son, but he made a hash of his clearance as the ball deflected off the South Korean, and fell fortuitously for him to roll into an empty net.
By this point, the tension and drama was hitting its peak, and it spilled over as Robertson ploughed into Emerson unnecessarily, over the ball and into the Spurs defender's knee. He was at first given a yellow, but after Tierney watched the replay, he was dismissed.
There were chances for Spurs to win it in the final 10 minutes - Konate brilliantly cleared under his crossbar from Ben Davies' centre - but the final piece of theatre was not to come.
Not that there were any complaints. This was a Premier League contest for the ages, an outstanding show of energy, quality, drama and guts, and one that either side could have justifiably won.
13 mins: Kane gives Spurs lead with first home goal of season
17: Son misses massive chance at far post for 2-0
22: Kane escapes red for studs-up challenge on Robertson
30: Alli through on goal but Alisson produces sublime stop
35: Jota levels for Liverpool with header
37: Liverpool want penalty for Emerson nudge on Jota; Klopp booked for protesting
57: Kane misses two clear chances in the space of a minute
69: Robertson nods home Alexander-Arnold cross for 2-1, but Spurs want handball on Salah
74: Son rolls in equaliser after Alisson howler
76: VAR intervenes as Robertson is dismissed for hefty challenge on Emerson
Spurs boss Antonio Conte: "I haven't seen the Robertson situation with Kane. I haven't seen the possibility of a penalty. My staff said to me that the second goal was a clear handball. And I think it's not right to comment on the refereeing decisions after the game. I don't know if Jurgen wanted to comment on this, but I can tell you that my staff said to me it was incredible to give it, and not disallow it, because there was a clear handball from Salah.
"But the game was an exciting game, there were great emotions from the people. I don't like that we have to speak about the refereeing decisions at the end."
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp: "There were obviously many other things that were influential in this game, but some of these questions are better to ask Mr Tierney."
Asked if Kane's punishment should have been stronger: "Definitely, stronger. We can give Robbo a red card, it's not the smartest challenge of his life. But that's definitely a red card, no doubt about it. So we have a VAR sitting there, and he has a look again at the Robbo situation. Fine, that's what he's there for. What did he do in the Kane situation?
"And the penalty situation with Diogo Jota. Mr Tierney told me he thinks Diogo stops on purpose because he wants the foul. If you want to shoot you have to stop because you cannot run and shoot at the same moment. It is always helpful if you have played football yourself in the past. When you see the situation back, where is he stopping? I don't understand that.
"But it is OK, the draw is OK, we are not that crazy that we think we cannot draw at Spurs, but these are crucial, decisive situations. It's a great pass from Naby Keita and then someone finished the situation off in a not really football, legal way. And the ref and the VAR doesn't say a word.
"I really have no idea what is his problem with me. Honesty. I have no idea. In the beginning maybe I was a bit more emotional in the games, but it's not allowed in a situation like this, because with Mr Marriner it is all fine, but he obviously felt what he felt in that moment. He came over and gave me a yellow card which is fine, but I would have preferred the right decision on the pitch."
Harry Kane on Sky Sports:
Asked if he was worried he would be sent off, Kane said: "No, definitely not. I thought it was a strong tackle but I won the ball, although I've not seen it back.
"When you are playing against top sides and fighting for points, there are going to be strong tackles. They checked it and it stayed as a yellow card and we move on.
"It didn't feel like it [a red card] and Andy Robertson said I just caught his foot. When you slow stuff down in football it makes it look worse than what it is. But that's why VAR is there."
Tottenham host West Ham in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals at 7.45pm on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Football. Spurs return to Premier League action at home to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day; kick-off 3pm.
Liverpool host Leicester in the Carabao Cup last eight on Wednesday at 7.45pm before hosting Leeds in the Premier League at 12.30pm on Boxing Day.