Reds are a team to cherish as late win against Spurs keeps title dream alive
James Pearce runs the rule over Liverpool's last-gasp victory over Tottenham at Anfield - Liverpool Echo
09:45, 1 APR 2019
Liverpool kept their Premier League challenge very much alive with a dramatic late win against Spurs at Anfield.
The Reds were on top in the first half and went 1-0 up after Roberto Firmino converted Andy Robertson's pinpoint cross.
Spurs raised their game after the break and made it 1-1 through Lucas Moura.
How the stunned national media reported on Liverpool's late win over Tottenham Hotspur
After some superb defending from Virgil van Dijk helped stop a dangerous two-on-one break from the away side, Liverpool grabbed their winner.
Hugo Lloris could only parry a Mohammed Salah header and it trickled in off Toby Alderweireld to give the Reds all three points.
Here is James Pearce's verdict on what could be a huge result in the Premier League title race...
The roar was deafening. Pure euphoria swept around Anfield. The celebrations were wild.
It was a snapshot of what this title race means to Kopites. And it was created by a Liverpool team to cherish who simply refuse to give up.
As the clock ticked towards stoppage time and a collective sense of anxiety ruled, the Reds were on the cusp of a damaging stalemate which would have felt like a crushing defeat.
Jurgen Klopp's side would have found themselves level on points with Manchester City having played a game more and with an inferior goal difference. The dream would have felt like it was slipping away.
But from the jaws of despair, Liverpool rallied and secured a priceless victory courtesy of a dramatic late twist in the tale.
Trent Alexander-Arnold swung an inviting cross towards the far post, Mohamed Salah nodded goalwards and Tottenham's Hugo Lloris made an awful hash of what should have been a routine save.
The French keeper could only push the ball against defender Toby Alderweireld and it bobbled back and over the line. Cue mayhem as Anfield erupted.
Lucky? You bet. But that made the outcome all the sweeter. Thanks to a helping hand, Liverpool's thrilling pursuit of the Holy Grail remains alive and kicking.
Twenty-four hours after being knocked off top spot by Pep Guardiola's men, the Reds returned to the summit with six matches remaining.
“Liverpool, top of the league,” boomed around Anfield as a beaming Klopp delivered a hat-trick of fist pumps in front of the Kop and patted the Liver Bird on his chest with pride.
The race remains in City's hands but the sight of yet another Liverpool late show will be a body blow for the champions. Crucially, it means they have no margin for error.
One slip up during a gruelling April schedule as they continue to challenge on three fronts and suddenly Liverpool will be masters of their destiny as long as Klopp's men continue to take care of their own business.
In order to do that the Reds will need to play better than they did during an error-strewn display against Spurs.
Having taken the lead through Roberto Firmino's first-half header, they lost control and got ragged. Lucas Moura deservedly restored parity for Mauricio Pochettino's side.
Moments before Lloris' blunder, Moussa Sissoko should have won it for Spurs when clean through but blazed high into the Anfield Road End.
Talk about fine margins. In truth that miss was testament to the defensive nous of the commanding Virgil van Dijk , who had been left outnumbered.
Sensing that Sissoko was reluctant to shoot and wanted to tee up substitute Son Heung-Min instead, Van Dijk refused to give him the angle for the pass and effectively forced the French midfielder to take the shot on. His high-stakes gamble paid off.
Fortune undoubtedly played a part. Lloris joined fellow visiting keepers Jordan Pickford and Julian Speroni on the list of Liverpool match-winners during this title challenge.
The moment Virgil van Dijk saved Liverpool's hopes of winning the Premier League title
But it's no coincidence that this team keep digging themselves out of holes. Klopp has fashioned a team in his own image who scrap and fight to the bitter end. As well as an abundance of quality, there's a spirit and unity which is driving them on in search of the big prize.
Their powers of recovery when they endure setbacks are mightily impressive. They have an invaluable knack of finding a way to win.
The glorious ending ensured that Klopp avoided an inquest into his team selection after leaving out Fabinho .
The Brazilian has been Liverpool's best midfielder since the turn of the year and he was sorely missed before he was belatedly introduced late on.
Instead Klopp had opted to go with the experience and solidity of Jordan Henderson and James Milner in place of Fabinho and Adam Lallana.
Anfield was rocking before kick-off but it took the Reds time to settle during a scrappy opening spell.
Strangely, Alisson Becker looked a bag of nerves as he spilled the ball at the feet of Dele Alli and Alexander-Arnold had to hack clear.
Tottenham were set up to contain the Reds with wing-backs Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose playing so deep it was effectively a five-man backline.
However, the visitors did ask some questions on the counter with Moura getting up in support of Harry Kane. Alexander-Arnold was alert to get back and prevent Moura from connecting with Christian Eriksen's pass.
Andy Robertson brought the contest to life by creating the opening goal on 16 minutes. It was a piece of real quality from the Scottish full-back, who collected Henderson's pass out on the left and whipped in a beauty.
Firmino gleefully accepted the gift as he nodded home his 14th goal of the season from seven yards out. Robertson's name echoed around Anfield as the Kop paid homage to their Braveheart.
That's nine assists for Robertson in the league this term – more than any Liverpool defender has managed in a season during the Premier League era.
Suddenly, Liverpool started to click. The tempo and intensity was better and they threatened to kill Spurs off.
Alexander-Arnold went close to grabbing a second with a sweet strike before Sadio Mane twice curled narrowly wide.
Firmino's touch and intelligent movement continued to stretch Spurs' backline, while Alexander-Arnold's in-swinging corner hammered against the post.
However, the Reds' grip on proceedings loosened. They got sloppy and caused problems for themselves as they conceded possession cheaply.
Alisson was erratic and didn't help the growing sense of unease. The danger signs were crystal clear with Alli firing over after a slick one-two with Eriksen and Van Dijk alert to block Kane's piledriver.
The second half brought more of the same with Tottenham growing in confidence. After Alisson unconvincingly kept out Kane's effort, Robertson did brilliantly to stop Eriksen from converting the rebound.
As the game got stretched, it got increasingly frantic with Liverpool's composure in short supply.
With 20 minutes to go Spurs were level. Kane's quick free-kick caught the Reds napping with Trippier and Eriksen combining for Moura to convert from close range.
Neither team settled for a point with space opening up at both ends. Alexander-Arnold's curler was tipped over by Lloris before Klopp brought on Fabinho and Divock Origi.
Hearts were in mouths as first Sissoko and then Alli squandered chances to inflict a devastating defeat.
It was stomach-churning stuff. Then came the exhilarating finale in front of the Kop.
This title race isn't good for the ticker but it's one hell of a ride.
Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson (Origi 77), Wijnaldum, Milner (Fabinho 77), Mane, Salah (Lovren 90), Firmino.
Not used: Mignolet, Keita, Lallana, Shaqiri.
Tottenham: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez (Son 69), Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Eriksen (Llorente 90), Alli, Moura (Davies 82), Kane.
Not used: Gazzaniga, Wanyama, Foyth, Skipp.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Goals: Firmino 16, Moura 70, Alderweireld OG 90.
Man of the match: Andy Robertson . Another classy display from the Reds left-back who created the opener.
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