Liverpool recovers to beat Tottenham 2-1, takes 6-point lead
A goal after 47 seconds by Tottenham captain Harry Kane at Anfield on Sunday contrasted with the misery of Madrid in June when a penalty was conceded 22 seconds into the Champions League final against the same team.
But just as Mohamed Salah netted the penalty that set Liverpool on its way to a sixth European Cup, the striker also scored from the spot again 148 days on against Tottenham to complete a domestic comeback.
With a 2-1 victory — aided by captain Jordan Henderson’s equalizer — Liverpool restored its six-point lead at the top of the league.
“We are very critical of ourselves,” Henderson said, “and always want to do better.”
Liverpool is chasing its first league title since 1990. For Tottenham, it is finding a way to rise from 11th place closer to the top four where it has finished for four consecutive seasons.
With 12 points from 10 games, the north London club is enduring its worst start since Mauricio Pochettino took charge in 2014.
“We have the belief and the confidence,” Pochettino said. “But we didn’t find a way to keep possession.”
At least Mousa Sissoko found some early redemption on Merseyside, having handled to concede that penalty in the 2-0 final loss.
Launching a counterattack after 30 seconds on Merseyside, Sissoko’s surging run left a trail of red shirts in his wake before he picked out Son Heung-min on the left wing.
The South Korea forward brushed past Henderson before his shot hit the bar, helped by a deflection off Dejan Lovren.
Kane was primed to connect with the rebound, sending a stooping header past Alisson Becker with only 47 seconds on the clock.
“The best thing about my team today was that you couldn’t see any influence of the goal to be honest. We weren’t nervous, anything,” Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp said.
“We followed the plan and filled the plan with passion, emotion, everything in the right way.”
Just finding a way past Paulo Gazzaniga was a problem.
Even with first-choice goalkeeper Hugo Lloris out until the new year with an elbow injury, the understudy more than lived up to the task.
There was a double save to deny Salah and Roberto Firmino before getting a fingertip to Virgil van Dijk’s header.
But not even the power of Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot from outside the penalty area was enough to find a way past Gazzaniga approaching the half hour.
He was proving a frustrating barrier to the equalizer, scrambling away Firmino’s header and then Lovren’s attempt from the resulting corner at the start of the second half.
Having swarmed Tottenham since conceding in the first minute, Liverpool switched off again to allow Son to embark on a counterattack.
Rounding Alisson, Son reached a tight angle and could only hit the crossbar.
How costly it proved.
Danny Rose failed to clear the ball and then only helped Fabinho’s cross onto the unmarked Henderson, who volleyed the ball past the Tottenham left back into the net.
Gazzaniga was finally beaten, and he was again by Salah’s penalty after Aurier dispossessed Sadio Mane before fouling the Senegal forward as he tried to clear.
With Kane having a header blocked with almost the final move of the game, Tottenham remains firmly in midtable, without an away win in the league since January.
“We can say we were very competitive,” Pochettino said. “We scored early and then I think we suffered in the first half. They were better than us.
“In the second half we controlled more, I think we played more the game that we wanted to play.”
Liverpool, which was held by Manchester United last weekend, has 28 points from a possible 30. Klopp’s side is six points ahead of Manchester City ahead of the second-place champions’ visit to Anfield in two weeks.