Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur in a crucial match for the top four positions with both teams exchanging goals before Mario Balotelli, on as a substitute, scored the winner with what was his first Premier League goal. It was a breathless game that saw the home team take the lead twice before being pegged back by a competitive Spurs side. The win puts Liverpool within a point of their opponents and just three points off both 3rd and 4th places.
The game started off at an incredibly frenetic pace with both teams pressing high up the pitch, largely due to the similar styles of both the young managers. Mauricio Pochettino could be heard barking out orders for his defenders to keep the ball on the ground rather than lumping it forward early on but they were quite error prone during the first half. Back in the starting line-up after five months, Daniel Sturridge latched onto a couple of those loose balls but his finishing was rusty.
But he was involved for Lazar Markovic’s opener when he brought down a long ball for the Serb to latch on and run towards the Kop End before unleashing a weak effort that Hugo Lloris should have saved.
Jordan Ibe continued with his fine performance from Goodison Park constantly troubling Spurs’ left back Danny Rose. Spurs created most of their chances through the middle with wide players Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela tucking in to overload the spaces in between the lines. The home side were missing Lucas, who has been a vital cog in the new 3-4-2-1 system as the defensive midfielder. The equaliser came from that particular area with Eriksen and Lamela combining to set up Harry Kane who in his current form could make no mistakes
The second half started with both teams looking to pick up where they had left. It was Liverpool who took the lead through a Steven Gerrard penalty after Danny Rose had stuck out a leg to foul Sturridge.
Spurs tried to hit back immediately with a thunderbolt Erik Lamela shot that was somehow tipped over the bar by Simon Mignolet. The Belgian looks a far more composed keeper and is undoubtedly enjoying the best run of form for a long time.
Their equaliser did arrive but it involved two moments of controversy. First, Gerrard was booked for a foul on Kane although it looked like the Liverpool captain nicked the ball fairly. Then, Eriksen’s freekick was well saved by Mignolet, but a clearly offside Kane put it back in cleverly for Dembele to touch it home.
Gerrard got replaced by Lovren as Can moved into midfield. The game for fractious and there were loads of foul with Phil Dowd dishing out cards at will
Sturridge came off for Balotelli with around 20 minutes left and Markovic made way for Adam Lallana. Nacer Chadli was Spurs first substitution for Eriksen.
The two Liverpool substitutes combined to give Liverpool the lead for the final time. Ibe played in Lallana who crossed for the almost forgotten Balotelli to nip in ahead of Erik Dier and convert.
Dembele for Soldado was Spurs’ last substitution as they switched to a 4-4-2. But the home side were largely untroubled and saw out the game.
It was a perfect advert for the Premier League, with both sides really going for it. There were loads of shots, high paced football that involved good technical players comfortable on the ball. Apart from mistakes and yellow cards, it was a brilliant game to watch with Liverpool grabbing a vital win.