Liverpool needed a late own goal by Toby Alderweireld to grab all three points as they beat Tottenham 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday to return to the top of the table.
After a slow start to the game, Liverpool found their feet and took just a quarter of an hour to break the deadlock. Roberto Firmino rose the highest to meet Andrew Robertson’s inviting cross, glancing the ball past Hugo Lloris to put his side in the lead.
Thereafter, there were plenty of chances for both sides to find the back of the net, but Liverpool went into half-time with their narrow lead intact. Spurs heaped the pressure post the break, but lacked clinical touch in front of goal, until the 70th minute, when Lucas Moura equalised for the visitors.
Tottenham subsequently had the best chance to take the lead, but their profligacy would go on to hurt them late on. With the match heading towards a draw, Mohamed Salah headed meekly towards Hugo Lloris, only to see the Spurs captain uncharacteristically fumble the ball towards Toby Alderweireld, who turned the ball into his own net.
Liverpool had thus, done just about enough to seal the win and return to the top of the table, with title rivals Manchester City now two points behind them. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
It was one of those outings wherein Alisson’s arrogance on the ball did not pay off. The Brazilian lost the ball when he usually would not, which also ended up translating to his judgement off the ball. As far as shot-stopping was concerned, he was largely reliable, doing well whenever called into action.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Fit to start after shrugging off a minor injury, Alexander-Arnold was in his elements on both ends of the pitch. A constant outlet down the right flank, it was his cross that eventually led to the winner. At the back, he kept a check on Lucas Moura, and later, Son Heung-min. A vital cog in the Liverpool defence.
Joel Matip: 6/10
Matip has done well ever since he forged his partnership with Virgil van Dijk. But, on Sunday, the Cameroonian centre-back was nowhere near the levels he has displayed in recent games, reading the game horribly at times. Solid otherwise, there were two moments, in particular, when he was caught off position; fortunately for him, he wasn’t punished for it.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
van Dijk was left with so much to do after Matip carelessly and rashly got caught out of position. He manages to close the channel for a simple pass and a clear one-on-one as well as cover the direct route to goal for the ball carrier.
He truly is a special, special defender.
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) March 31, 2019
Speaking of those two moments, the reason why Matip did not pay for his mistake was Virgil van Dijk. The Dutchman just continues to grow in stature and on Sunday, he added another memorable outing. The standout moment was when he was in a 2v1 situation and expertly defended to throw Moussa Sissoko off and sky the shot. Where would Liverpool be without him?
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
After a very brief slump, Robertson was evidently back to his best against Tottenham. The Scottish left-back was constantly on the prowl down the left flank and it was his inviting cross that Firmino scored from in the first half. Quite easily the biggest threat for his side, he neutralised the threat of Kieran Trippier smartly as well.
James Milner: 5/10
Preferred to Adam Lallana, Milner did not seem to be at his best, with the pace of the game catching him off guard for large parts. While he cannot be faulted for lack of trying, the veteran Englishman was sloppy on the ball at times, which let Tottenham have a look-in constantly.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
Favoured to Fabinho, Klopp’s decision horribly backfired, with Henderson looking a little leggy on the day. Always seemed to stutter when off the ball and his passing was a little wayward at times, which only sought to heap the pressure on Liverpool. Very un-Henderson-like.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5/10
Liverpool’s Mr. Reliable was not quite reliable on Sunday, with exertions of the international break clearly taking a toll on him. The Dutchman was not quite at his lively best, and it looks like a week’s rest might be just what the doctor ordered for him.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
Salah has been far from his best for quite some time now, and Sunday’s outing saw him continue in a similar pattern. At times a bit too selfish, the Egyptian clearly does not possess the sharpness of the early season, which he so desperately seeks. Had his part to play in the winner as Lloris spilled his header before Alderweireld scored the own goal.
Roberto Firmino: 7/10
Like the reverse fixture, Firmino was at hand to make the difference as he rose the highest to meet Robertson’s cross. Headed the ball perfectly to return to scoring ways and continued to pose the threat for the rest of his outing. Will hope to build on this performance during the run-in.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
Mane has been the danger man for Liverpool lately. And while there were ominous signs on Sunday, the Senegalese was not quite as clinical as he had been in the lead-up to the international break. Like Salah, he was also guilty of being too selfish at times, which he needs to curb in the final few games.
On for Henderson, Fabinho introduced a sense of calm that was missing when the Liverpool captain was on the pitch. While he too had a couple of forgettable moments, the Brazilian was key in giving his side the control for the final 15 minutes or so.
Divock Origi: 6/10
Origi came on alongside Fabinho and looked lively. Drove into the final third with purpose and added that bit of energy that helped Liverpool get over the line.
Dejan Lovren: N/A
A pair of fresh legs late on.