Jubilation, deflation, elation, frustration; words that best describe the four goals at Anfield on Sunday afternoon from Liverpool’s perspective.
Tottenham had routed Liverpool in their last meeting at Wembley, but looming over the visitors head was a poor record at Anfield with only two wins in the last twenty years to their name, writes Umarah Naz.
Despite these statistics being very much in Liverpool’s favour, fans were understandably apprehensive going into the fixture given the last result. Jurgen Klopp, however, didn’t share his fellow Reds’ anxieties suggesting he’d “forgotten” about that game.
Things couldn’t have been more different this time around. Just as Kane had given Tottenham the lead in the fourth minute in the reverse fixture, Liverpool’s talisman, Mohamed Salah, did the same a minute earlier here.
The “Egyptian King” pounced on Tottenham’s failure to control the ball in midfield and found himself one on one with Hugo Lloris. And the rest doesn’t need to be recounted. Goal number twenty for Salah stunned Mauricio Pochettino’s men and set the tone for Liverpool’s first-half performance.
Spurs weren’t allowed to play out from the back due to Liverpool’s constant pressure high up the pitch. Klopp had the midfield compact leaving Spurs not being able to find any gaps to exploit, and Kane barely having a touch of the ball.
Hugo Lloris was constantly having to deal with the ball being played back to him as Liverpool limited Tottenham’s forward options with it.
Klopp’s game plan would have been perfect had his players taken their goal scoring chances. James Milner, Roberto Firmino and returning centre back, Virgil van Dijk all had chances to increase Liverpool’s lead but the final balls left a lot to be desired.
Tottenham were always likely to improve in the second-half, and when Liverpool went into the break with only a solitary goal lead, it was clear those missed chances would be regretted at some point.
Much to the credit of the defence, they held out brilliantly for eighty minutes. Klopp had been questioned pre-match on his controversial decision to partner Van Dijk with Dejan Lovren, considering how he had fared previously.
But the Croatian paid back Klopp’s faith in him with a sold display alongside the Reds’ record signing.
Both were commanding with Van Dijk looking every inch the leader everyone expected. It appears that the fans would like to see this defensive partnership going forward, but it’s unclear whether their manager has decided on a pair as of yet.
It was painfully reminiscent of Phil Jagielka’s goal in September 2014 at Anfield in stoppage time. Never ever to be replicated. Some suggested that Loris Karius should have caught instead of punching the ball, but that seems harsh on the German who had a good game between the sticks and became the Kop hero just five minutes later.
A frantic last nine minutes saw two penalties, a penalty save, an exquisite goal, and some refereeing antics.
Five minutes from normal time, an offside Kane was allegedly brought down in the box by Karius but replays showed that the Englishman tripped over the air and nothing else.
It remains to be seen if the FA take a retrospective look Kane’s theatrics.
After a lengthy conversation with the linesman about the offside, referee Jon Moss awarded the penalty, adjudging Lovren to have last touched the ball before it fell to Kane. A harsh decision on both counts.
The Premier League’s top scorer looked to net his one hundredth goal, but a nervous penalty went straight down the middle and Karius’ decision not to budge until the last second saw him become Anfield’s saviour, keeping the score at 1-1 and possibly salvaging a point for the home team. Some much needed brownie points for the often criticised goalkeeper.
Whilst the defence may have been thinking about preserving that point, Mo Salah’s brain had other ideas. A minute into stoppage time he collected the ball on the edge of the penalty box, dribbled past the Tottenham defence and past Lloris to send Anfield and Klopp into delirium.
It must be noted that he did all this whilst stopping in the middle of his run to appeal for a Tottenham handball. Many compared the goal to one that Lionel Messi might score on any given day. And they wouldn’t be far off the mark.
The exceptional Egyptian has surpassed all expectations and is well on course for a record breaking goal tally this season. Twenty-one and counting.
But it was the officials, specifically the linesman, who stole the last laugh from Salah. A ninety-fourth minute penalty was handed to Spurs when Van Dijk fouled substitute, Erik Lamela. The referee had initially waved away the penalty appeal but the linesman whistled to overrule John Moss.
However, a closer look showed Lamela back into the Dutchman’s retreating leg, but contact was apparent nonetheless.
The fist-pumping linesman got his fifteen minutes of fame. And that’s precisely why he won’t be named here.
Linesman celebrating the decision? He’s definitely a Spurs fan! 🙈pic.twitter.com/OkeUn6xo7U
— Football Stands (@TheFootyStands) February 4, 2018
Kane kept his cool in all the drama and was not to be denied his moment this time, joining the elite one hundred Premier League club.
Even though the manner of the draw was extremely disappointing to Liverpool fans, Tottenham had much the better of the game in the second-half and Liverpool had done a stellar job in keeping them out for so long. All in all a point each was fair and will keep the top four tighter than ever going into busy February for both teams.
Liverpool failed to capitalise on their excellent first-half and their tiring legs couldn’t keep up the fast tempo in the second allowing Spurs to take control and snatch a draw.
Pochettino ran to embrace the officials at the final whistle whilst Klopp dragged his players away before offering his own sarcastic handshakes and inaudible comments. The latter treating the draw like a loss as the former celebrated it like a win.
It’s testament to Liverpool when teams go away from Anfield ecstatic with a point, although that does nothing to ease the frustration felt by fans at dropping points. With Liverpool it’s often a case of “it’s not the draw it’s the manner of it” but they didn’t do a lot wrong regarding the goals conceded on Sunday.
In fact, it was some errant decisions in the final third which ultimately ended up impacting the result. But against an excellent Tottenham side, that is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.