Tottenham vs Liverpool match report: Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno fire Reds on Mario Balotelli's debut

Tottenham 0 Liverpool 3

White Hart Lane

If ever a new Tottenham team was going to crumble early in the season, it might as well be just before transfer deadline day, also quite possibly their chairman Daniel Levy’s favourite 24 hours of the year.

For Mauricio Pochettino, with two wins and a summer of low-key but interesting trading, this was a shock to the system. Like so many incumbents of the padded manager’s seat in the White Hart Lane dug-out, he was forced to contemplate the creeping anxiety that this Spurs team he has started shaping might not be everything he had hoped it would be – in fact, at times it looked like it filled none of that particular criteria at all.

Tottenham were well beaten, although one could argue that the three-goal margin was an improvement on the 5-0 and 4-0 defeats by Liverpool last season – carry on like this and Spurs will be due a draw against Brendan Rodgers’ team sometime in the second half of the next campaign. Liverpool showed both of Spurs’ managers last season the weaknesses in their teams – and they obliged Pochettino by doing the same this time.

Watching from on high was the 77-year-old billionaire Joe Lewis, the man who has ultimate control of Spurs and is a rare visitor to White Hart Lane. Not an easy man to impress, he will have left wondering whether he will ever see a Tottenham team capable of challenging for the title. Tomorrow will be a busy day for Levy once again, which, of course, is the way he likes it.

 

Pochettino would not confirm that the club will push to sign Morgan Schneiderlin on the last day of the window, nor the departures of Sandro or Roberto Soldado, although all three will surely be in play as far as Levy is concerned. As for Liverpool, this was a ruthless display, with some stand-out performances from the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and their new left-back, Alberto Moreno. There was an hour from Mario Balotelli before he was substituted by a happy Rodgers, although even this particular Italian could not steal the show from some of his team-mates. A week after the Manchester City defeat this was a very solid response from Rodgers’ team.

Raheem Sterling makes it 1-0 to Liverpool Raheem Sterling makes it 1-0 to Liverpool Later, Rodgers told a good story at Balotelli’s surprise at being told earlier in the week that he would be expected to mark at defensive corners. “For the first time in his life, he marked at a corner,” the Liverpool manager said. “Serious. An international player who has won three titles in Italy, cups, the Champions League.”

Balotelli should have scored with a header within two minutes, when Sturridge picked him out at the back post and the ever-reliable Hugo Lloris somehow managed to intervene between forehead and goal. It was early – in the game and in his Liverpool career – but it should have been a goal.

Accommodating Balotelli was one of the great challenges for Liverpool and in the first half he tried out most of the forward line for size. He had even asked for the penalty responsibility, Rodgers said, but that remained with Steven Gerrard, whose successful spot kick took him ahead of Jan Molby as the club’s all-time leading penalty taker with 43.

The Italian started on the right side of the attacking three behind Sturridge and ended the half on the left side. There were times when it looked like he was part of a two-man strike force. There are few players who walk back to their own half more slowly than Balotelli when a move breaks down, but when the ball came to him he came to life.

Steven Gerrard scored Liverpool's second from the spot Steven Gerrard scored Liverpool's second from the spot There was a back-heel to Sturridge in the first half that opened up the space for the Englishman to shoot. On the half hour a brilliant turn around the halfway line took Balotelli away from Younes Kaboul. His chip forward to Sterling might have been better but it drew Lloris from his line and the loose ball pinged back to Balotelli. With the Spurs goalkeeper off his line, the Italian failed to hit the target.

Nevertheless, on the touchline, Rodgers clapped and grinned as if to say that was exactly what he brought Balotelli back to English football to do.

As for English football, it welcomed Balotelli back with one of those sliding tackles that, uniquely, an English crowd rise to applaud. This one was from Eric Dier, schooled in Lisbon but English to his boots, who spotted that Balotelli had slowed down and took man and ball at once.

The first goal came down the right but had no Balotelli involvement, being worked down the wing by Sturridge and then Jordan Henderson who brilliantly picked out Sterling, who squeezed the ball in from the back of the area.

Spurs created too few chances, the best of which was an Emmanuel Adebayor flick on for Nacer Chadli just before half-time. There was a strong spin on the ball which took it away from the Belgian just as he set himself to shoot and gave Simon Mignolet a chance of saving it.

Within two minutes after the break, Spurs conceded the penalty that changed the balance of the game for good. Dier, who had been physical and decisive, grabbed at Joe Allen’s shirt as he went past him in the area and got enough of a contact for the midfielder to go down. It was, as Pochettino said, “soft” but the kind of thing that invites a tumble.

Alberto Moreno celebrates his wonder-goal to make it 3-0 Alberto Moreno celebrates his wonder-goal to make it 3-0 Gerrard dispatched the penalty with authority, and it was then that Pochettino will have started to consider his options. A minute before the hour he sent on Mousa Dembele and Andros Townsend, and within a minute Townsend had conceded possession for Liverpool’s third. In defence of the Englishman, Alberto Moreno should never have been allowed to run unchecked from his own half to score.

Moreno’s mistake allowed Manchester City in for their first goal last week but yesterday he was committed and effective from the start. His shot, perfectly placed, clipped the base of Lloris’ far post, out of the reach of the goalkeeper. One more indicator that Liverpool were getting the details right while Spurs floundered.

Rodgers switched to 4-3-3 to see out the last 30 minutes. There might have been a fourth, a brilliant penalty-box adventure from Sterling that just lacked a decent finish.

“Raheem ran into the box like Ricky Villa and finished it like Ricky Gervais,” Rodgers said. All in all, though, a good day at the office.

Tottenham (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose (Davies, 72); Bentaleb (Dembele, 59), Capoue; Chadli, Eriksen (Townsend, 59), Lamela; Adebayor.

Substitutes not used: Friedel (gk), Chiriches, Holtby, Kane.

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Manquillo, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson; Balotelli (Markovic, 60), Sterling (Enrique, 86), Allen (Can, 60); Sturridge.

Substitutes not used: Jones (gk), Toure, Lambert, Coutinho.

Referee: P Dowd

Man of the match: Sturridge

Rating: 7

Booked: Liverpool Allen, Manquillo, Sterling      

Suggested Topics
News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
Louis van Gaal at the Hawthorns prior to Manchester United's game against West Brom
football

Follow the latest updates from the Monday night Premier League fixture

News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past