Belfast Telegraph

Pool's latest never-say-die display is too hot for Spurs

Liverpool 2 Tottenham 1

In control: Jordan Henderson salutes fellow scorer Mohamed Salah as Liverpool take the lead
In control: Jordan Henderson salutes fellow scorer Mohamed Salah as Liverpool take the lead
Quick start: Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson can’t keep out Harry Kane’s early header

By Mark Critchley

Again it comes the hard way, again a penalty is required, but again Liverpool win.

After their long stretch of Premier League victories came to an end at Old Trafford last Sunday, the pace-setters needed two second-half goals to come from behind and beat Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield.

Jordan Henderson's equaliser and a Mohamed Salah penalty mean Jurgen Klopp's side remain six points clear at the summit.

The title challengers also equal the Premier League record of 28 points after the opening 10 fixtures.

Each of the three teams to find themselves in such a position at this stage of the season - Chelsea in 2005/06, Manchester City in 2011/12 and 2017/18 - has ultimately been crowned champions.

Harry Kane's opening goal inside the first minute threatened to upset all that. For Tottenham and Mauricio Pochettino, becoming the first team to win at Anfield in 44 attempts could have been a turning point in their miserable start to the season.

An inspired display by second-choice goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga gave them every chance of a famous victory. His 12 saves was the most in a Premier League game for nearly two years.

But Spurs' resolve was broken by Henderson at the start of the first half and their defeat was all but assured when Serge Aurier fouled Sadio Mané inside the penalty area with 15 minutes remaining. It was an unfortunate way to lose but attempting to protect a lead against Liverpool is a risky business and a gamble that was never likely to pay off.

It took only 47 seconds for the pattern of the game to be established.

Kane's breakthrough came fortuitously. Son's shot from the edge of the area bounced his way after deflecting off Dejan Lovren and hitting the woodwork, but Tottenham had made their own luck. The move which led to the goal was brilliant, incisive counter-attacking.

After Henderson lost possession in Tottenham's half, Moussa Sissoko surged through Liverpool's midfield, bypassing both Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum. He played in Son and Kane did well to anticipate the path of the South Korean's strike, following it in towards Alisson's goal then reacting quickest to nod in.

Ahead after less than a minute, Tottenham now needed to protect their lead for another 89 plus stoppage time.

It always seemed a tall order, particularly once Liverpool began to test Gazzaniga.

Four saves in quick succession denied them an equaliser, with Salah, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold all frustrated. The last of those stops was finest, with Alexander-Arnold's pile-driver brilliantly pushed away.

Klopp told his players at half time that the only problem was the scoreline, though that could easily have been exacerbated at the start of the second half.

Gazzaniga turned playmaker with a long punt downfield towards Son. He rounded Alisson but was forced wide by the Liverpool goalkeeper and, from a narrow angle, could only hit the bar.

A two-goal lead would have been an entirely different proposition but Liverpool soon established the parity that their dominance deserved.

Belying his reputation for safe and conservative play, Henderson had started taking up more advanced positions down the right. A ball over the top by the excellent Fabinho came his way off Danny Rose's shoulder and a scuffed finish into the ground finally had Gazzaniga beaten.

Liverpool did not let up but the second only arrived from the penalty spot.

Aurier initially won the ball from Mané but, in attempting to make a clearance, he hacked at the back of the Senegalese's right leg. Referee Anthony Taylor was in no doubt and Tottenham could have few complaints.

Gazzaniga could not prevent Salah from scoring his 50th Anfield goal in 58 games. Only Roger Hunt has reached that milestone in fewer matches.

There were a handful of late scares for Liverpool as the pattern of play reversed and they, rather than Tottenham, tried to hold out for three points.

Yet on the overall balance of play, Klopp and his players deserved this win, their third victory against a 'top six' club of the season. Another in their next league home game, against Manchester City in a fortnight, would be most welcome.

LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum (Milner, 77 mins), Salah (Gomez, 85 mins), Firmino (Origi, 90 mins), Mane. Unused subs: Keita, Adrian, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.

Tottenham: Gazzaniga, Aurier (Lucas Moura, 84 mins), Alderweireld, Sanchez, Rose, Sissoko, Winks (Ndombele, 63 mins), Alli, Eriksen (Lo Celso, 88 mins), Kane, Son. Unused subs: Vertonghen, Dier, Davies, Austin.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

Man of the match: Sadio Mane

Match rating: 7/10

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