Roberto Firmino’s last-minute header broke Tottenham’s stubborn resistance at Anfield and sent Liverpool to the top of the Premier League table.
An entertaining encounter looked set to end in stalemate before – with the game entering stoppage time – Firmino soared to flash a header high past Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris from Andrew Robertson’s corner.
Liverpool flew at Spurs in the opening exchanges and went ahead when Mohamed Salah’s shot took a big deflection off Eric Dier and looped over Lloris.
Spurs had barely left their own half but struck with a counter punch seven minutes later when Son Heung-min raced clear to slip a composed finish past Alisson.
Spurs actually had the better chances in the second half, with Steven Bergwijn firing wide then hitting a post when clean through and Harry Kane heading over from point-blank range.
Manager Jose Mourinho was left to regret those missed opportunities as a late Liverpool surge ended with Firmino’s winner to send the defending champions three points clear at the top of the table and inflict Spurs’ first Premier League loss since the opening weekend home defeat against Everton.
𝑻𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒆𝒆 🤩
Enjoy Bobby Firmino’s 90th-minute winner from multiple angles 👀 pic.twitter.com/Rc2mBwh0fq
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 17, 2020
Poignant Anfield night ends in triumph
This was the night Anfield paid tribute to former manager Gerard Houllier who died aged 73 this week.
There were poignant moments with a minute’s applause before kick-off and those fans gathered on The Kop sang the songs they used to sing to celebrate the Frenchman’s success.
Liverpool’s players paid their own tribute with a display that started in blistering fashion as a succession of chances were created, then showed grit and resilience to fashion the three points as Spurs threatened after the break.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was animated, even by his standards, raging at the officials on numerous occasions before celebrating wildly with his players and The Kop at the final whistle.
After a lacklustre performance at Fulham, this was the perfect response as they returned to familiar territory at the top of the table.
Spurs denied at the end
Spurs were left bitterly disappointed and deflated as they were sunk by a late goal at Anfield once again – their frustration made even more acute by the golden chances they missed to secure a statement victory and end a Liverpool unbeaten home sequence in the league that now stretches to 66 games.
Bergwijn squandered two opportunities to score with only Alisson to beat then Kane somehow directed a header down and over the top at The Kop end, holding his head in disbelief.
When the dust settles, Mourinho will feel Spurs showed why they are currently one of the top two sides in the country as they survived that Liverpool assault to open up the opportunities to actually win.
The last time Mourinho managed a side at Anfield, a 3-1 defeat when he was in charge of Manchester United in December 2018 saw him sacked 24 hours later. Here at Spurs, he is in charge of a developing side that will certainly contest places at the top end of the table this season.
‘Jose told me that the better team lost’ – what they said
Liverpool boss Klopp: “It was just a really good game against a counter-attacking monster, the possession we had we did incredibly well. The best way to defend Tottenham is to keep the ball all the time.
“Yes, they have scored a goal and had two chances. Apart from that, we controlled the game and it is a massively deserved three points. I am happy. For me, it [the Spurs goal] is offside. They watch it 20 times, but when I saw it, it is offside.
“I am so happy we scored that goal because it felt like 70% of the ball against a top side. Bobby [Firmino], what a header. I am over the moon for him. What a game he played, those movements, he opens up all the other gaps.”
On exchange with Mourinho after the final whistle: “Jose told me ‘the better team lost’. I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t.”
Spurs boss Mourinho: “We were playing to win, we were not playing to get a point. A point would have been quite a fair result but we played to win and had the biggest chances to win it. The moment of the occasions and the reaction they had, they were in trouble.
“I feel it was a very undeserved result, but that’s football. At half-time we move the pieces a little bit, but overall the game was always under control and I am very pleased with the performance.
“The changes were to find counter-attack situations which we did immediately, but with Gio’s [Lo Celso] yellow card and the incredible pressure these guys on the touchline put on the officials, I was afraid of the yellow card and I had to take him off. I am not the one to speak to my colleagues about their behaviour on the touchline.”
Reds continue to frustrate Spurs – the stats
Tottenham have won just one of their past 27 Premier League away games against Liverpool (D8 L18), last winning there in May 2011.
Tottenham have only conceded more Premier League goals against Chelsea (102) than they have against Liverpool (97).
This was Tottenham’s first Premier League defeat in 12 Premier League games (W7 D4), since a 0-1 loss to Everton in September.
Mourinho has never won away against Klopp in six attempts in all competitions (D2 L4), with Klopp being the manager he’s faced the most away from home without ever tasting victory.
Son has scored 11 goals in 13 Premier League appearances this season, equalling his goal tally from the entire 2019-20 campaign (11 in 30).
Twenty of Tottenham’s 25 Premier League goals this season have been scored by either Son (11) or Kane (9).
Salah now has eight goals against Tottenham in all competitions – against no other side has he scored more in his club career in European football (level with Bournemouth and Watford).
Liverpool visit Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday (12:30 GMT) while Tottenham host Leicester City on Sunday (14:15).