Roberto Firmino’s late header sinks Tottenham to send Liverpool clear at Premier League summit

Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham: A stubborn rearguard action looked to have earned Spurs a point until the Brazilian’s finish with 90 minutes on the clock

Melissa Reddy
Wednesday 16 December 2020 23:41
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Roberto Firmino the Premier League's greatest Brazilian
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Roberto Firmino rose to head in Andy Robertson’s corner leaving Hugo Lloris and Jose Mourinho motionless as Liverpool stunned Tottenham late on to claim top spot as their own.

The champions dominated the possession and pass count as well as the attacking third play, but Spurs had carved out the game’s big chances and it seemed as though the teams would not be separated.

But in the closing stages of normal time, the Brazil international fired in an aerial bullet to restore the Merseysiders to the summit.

The evening started with a warm tribute to the beloved Gerard Houllier, his name loudly sung as banners in his memory proudly decorated the stands.

The Frenchman, who modernised Liverpool and sadly passed away on Sunday night, was also honoured in the matchday programme and with a minute’s applause ahead of kick off.

Mourinho, who had wanted to replace Houllier in the Anfield dugout back in 2004, unsurprisingly set his side up to cede possession, be compact and look to counter.

Liverpool happily lionised the ball, the chances and took the lead sparked by a lovely diagonal pass from teenager Rhys Williams, who was making his Premier League debut with the almighty task of thwarting the prolific Harry Kane-Son Heung-min partnership.

The ball was worked between Roberto Firmino and Curtis Jones, the latter dribbled through the area but Serge Aurier’s intervention diverted the ball to Mohamed Salah.

His shot took a huge deflection off Toby Alderweireld to loop over Lloris. Tottenham’s goalkeeper then saved from Jones and by the half-hour mark, the visitors were fortunate to not be on the end of a less favourable scoreline.

All the play was Liverpool’s and they should have been comfortably ahead, but found Lloris more than they did the corners.

As Klopp had feared pre-match, they were stung in seconds by a slick counter-attack. Giovani Lo Celso sped to the halfway line and used the outside of his left foot to weave through a pass to Son.

He tricked Alisson with his eyes and buried the ball past the Brazilian at the near post. It was Tottenham’s first effort of any kind and they were level.

Mourinho’s charges were rapidly out of the blocks for the second 45 and should have taken the lead. A long ball forward was misjudged by Williams, affording Steven Bergwijn the chance to run through on goal.

He was strong in holding off Trent Alexander-Arnold but applied a weak finish. Jones, the 19-year-old having another standout game for Liverpool, saw another shot thwarted before Kane intercepted an Alisson kick and tried to chip the keeper from distance.

He recovered to push it behind for a corner.

Bergwijn relinquished another glorious chance to put Spurs ahead, striking the post, before Kane headed downwards and over the bar.

Sadio Mane, who had been well marshalled by Aurier all evening, turned sharply after being supplied by Jones, but his thunderbolt was tipped onto the bar by Lloris.

The closing minutes were open, but contested by visibly goosed players. Mourinho chucked on Dele Alli, who was so surprised at the nod he did not have his shin pads ready nor his tracksuit off, for Son.

With the game on the edge, Klopp resisted making substitutions. Robertson and Firmino combined to see his gamble pay off and to see off Spurs.

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