Liverpool finally produced a performance worthy of a top-four team to put the pressure of Tottenham, who are now only a point ahead of them.
Jurgen Klopp’s side played with intensity and purpose from the start, putting the backline of Tottenham – admittedly missing Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen – under scrutiny. Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho looked sharp and back to their best, and Spurs struggled to come to terms with it.
It was the Senegalese winger who put Liverpool in front after 16 minutes: Gini Wijnaldum, who was superb throughout, set him through, before Mane beat Ben Davies for pace, and slotted past Hugo Lloris in the Tottenham goal.
Just two minutes later, Mane whipped the ball away from Eric Dier, who looked ponderous on the ball and lacking in confidence during the entirety of the match, before feeding Lallana to his left.
Lallana shot, forcing a save, before Roberto Firmino followed up. That shot, too, was saved, but the third attempt was tucked in: a second for Mane and a second for Liverpool.
Liverpool’s pressing – a tactic Spurs themselves are often so good at – made Tottenham’s defence look amateur; Davies and Dier in particular looked out of their depth.
Soon later, Mane nearly scored a hat-trick but for a good save from Lloris.
Tottenham took their time to recover, shocked by the two quick goals; Liverpool buoyed by them and the brilliant atmosphere around Anfield. But recover they did, with Heung Min Son particularly dangerous. The speed of the Korean’s feet was mesmerising at times.
It was Son who shot to force a good save from Simon Mignolet five minutes later. After half an hour, Dele Alli looped a header towards goal, only to see it cleared over the bar by Lucas, playing again in the absence of Dejan Lovren.
Christian Eriksen put a free-kick over the bar before half-time, but Liverpool successfully weathered the storm. Liverpool were value for their lead all things considered, and had performed well. Not since mid-December had the team functioned this well.
In the second period, the game became increasingly scrappy, with fouls conceded all over the field by both teams. This suited the home side, who were in no rush to keep the flow of the game, wary of being punished on the counter attack.
Referee Anthony Taylor struggled at times to keep the game under control, but issued yellow cards to Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, Harry Kane and five others. In fairness, it was frantic at times, and Tottenham became increasingly frustrated.
Spurs struggled to create chances for Kane and their other attackers, much like Liverpool over the last few games. The intensity of the game seen in the first half slowed massively in the second, with many fewer chances created by both sides.
Moussa Sissoko and Vincent Janssen were introduced by the visitors, but to no avail. Neither had any influence on the game at all.
Tottenham simply did not do enough to trouble Mignolet and his defence, and the result almost certainly means Chelsea are now too far in front of the chasing pack.
For the Reds, it puts them just a point of second place, despite the hysteria surrounding their performances over the last month, at least until Monday night when Manchester City travel to Bournemouth.
Liverpool have made sure that the rest of the season means something, and Jurgen Klopp can be very proud of his side’s performance in a big game once again. How Liverpool must wish they had produced this over the last month.
Simon Mignolet, 8 – did nothing wrong, made some good catches, but was relatively unworried
Nathaniel Clyne, 8 – much better than the previous few games; excellent going forward with some direct running and good crosses
Joel Matip, 7 – very untroubled by Harry Kane and some good balls out from the back, but again had little to do
Lucas, 7 – played one or two poor passes out of play, but did some good interceptions too; much improved on last week
James Milner, 8 – found some energy missing over the last month, and added experience when Liverpool had to see the game out
Jordan Henderson, 8 – typical consistent performance, ticking the midfield over nicely, although he did get his customary yellow card
Adam Lallana, 9 – a performance more akin to those he produced before Christmas, clearly enjoying playing with a fully fit Coutinho and Mane once again; drove forward from midfield and tracked back expertly, and provided a runner from midfield to break the lines on multiple occasions
Gini Wijnaldum, 9 – often a quiet influence on Liverpool, but today played some great passes and was a vital cog in Liverpool’s pressing game; hardly lost the ball at all and won it back every time
Philippe Coutinho, 8 – looked sharper than he has done so far in 2017, which can only be a good thing for the Reds; gave Kyle Walker a torrid time on occasion, turning him inside then out
Roberto Firmino, 8 – the best non-scoring performance from a striker possible according to Jurgen Klopp; pressed well and showed some great touches as usual, but lost the ball too easily at times in some good positions
Sadio Mane, 9 – injected pace into the side and of course scored the two goals to give Liverpool the three points
Emre Can (77th minute sub.), 7 – often a scapegoat when Liverpool lose, but offered stability when he came on, and helped take the sting out of the game
Ragnar Klavan (82nd minute sub.), 7 – replaced the injured Lucas; did nothing spectacular but was not really called on in the short time he featured
Trent Alexander Arnold (92nd minute sub.), n/a
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