Firmino strike sinks stuttering Spurs
Champions-elect Liverpool edge closer to title after Tottenham fail to take late chances
11 January, 2020 — By Dan Carrier at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
LIVERPOOL 1 (Firmino 37)
SPURS could not make their chances tell as they went down in a battling 1-0 defeat to Champions-elect Liverpool this afternoon.
In a tight game that saw Liverpool hog a lot of the ball while Tottenham created some good chances, the difference was Jurgen Klopp’s forwards clinical finishing.
Where Spurs snatched at openings or blasted their shots instead placing them, Roberto Firmino’s deadly-eye for goal separated the two teams at the sound of the final whistle.
Speaking after the match Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho said he felt nothing but pride at the way his team had reacted to the challenge.
He said: “I think we deserved a point. I have good feeling with the boys. We tried everything. We played the best team in the world who have reached their maximum potential. In spite of that, I think we deserved more than what we got. I have many reasons to be proud of the players.”
Mourinho was critical of referee Martin Atkinson, who let a dangerous challenge on debutante Japhet Tanganga by Andy Robertson go – it was a clear and dangerous foul that could have on another day earned him a straight red. Instead, moments later liverpool took the lead.
“Compare it to Son versus Chelsea [a game where the forward got a controversial sending off] and you have the answer,” he said. “Not only that, from the incident they went on to score. I have a bit of upset in my voice.”
Mourinho also singled out youngster Tanganga for what was a brilliant debut performance. “He has reason to be very happy with his first game in the Premier League,” he added.
“It could not have been a bigger one and he did amazing on the right, and then on the left. This is a good moment for him and message for the kids at the academy that if you have the right atttiude, the opportunities arrive.”
While Liverpool can point at frightening statistics regarding possession – for spells they had 80 per cent of the ball – Spurs carved three shooting opportunities via Heung-Min Son, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli in the opening 15 minutes.
Each time, despite being in good positions, their sights were awry and they failed to hit the target. It was to be the motif for this defeat to the runaway leaders.
The winning goal came towards the end of a half that had seen Spurs sit deep and hope to hit their visitors on the counter. It was a risky tactic.
Liverpool’s increasing pressure saw them pepper the box with crosses – and eventually the break through came via Firmino. Alli lost a battle with Jordan Henderson on the edge of the box and the ball spun out to the Brazilian. He turned Toby Alderweireld and smashed home.
It had been coming but Spurs could feel they had worked hard and defended well enough – but could not take the pressure off by holding on to the ball in the midfield for any length of time.
The home team rallied as the second half matured. Son blasted over when he should have scored. Substitute Giovani Lo Celso, who replaced the disappointing Christian Eriksen with 20 to go, also squandered a golden chance, somehow firing wide from four yards out with the goal gaping.
Fellow substitute Erik Lamela also forced Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson into two saves. But for all of Tottenham’s huff and puff, which promised something in brief spells, Liverpool looked like they had another gear if they needed it.
SPURS: Gazzaniga, Rose (Lamela, 69) Alderweireld, Sanchez, Son, Winks, Alli, Eriksen (Lo Celso, 69), Aurier, Moura, Tanganga.
Substitutes not used: Vorm, Vertonghen, Dier, Sessegnon, Skipp.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Firmino, Mane (Origi, 80) Salah (Shaqiri, 90), Gomez, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Lallana, 60) Robertson, Alexander-Arnold.
Substitutes not used: Adrian, Minamino, Phillips, Williams.