Lamela strikes late but Reds prevail
Spurs 1-2 Liverpool
Sat 15 September 2018, 14:26|Tottenham Hotspur
Our return to Premier League action after the international break ended in disappointment at Wembley on Saturday afternoon as Liverpool left London with all three points thanks to a 2-1 win.
Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino – one in each half – did the damage and we were also indebted to some fine saves from goalkeeper Michel Vorm, with the visitors having 10 shots on target.
In contrast, we struggled to break down Liverpool’s defence, forcing Alisson into just two saves until Erik Lamela cracked home a volley deep into stoppage time. The returning Heung-Min Son might have snatched an even later leveller, but the chance slipped away.
We were slow off the blocks and Liverpool had a goal disallowed for off-side in the second minute as Firmino steered towards the net and Sadio Mane may have got a touch before Vorm saved Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick shortly after.
The Dutch goalkeeper, playing in place of the injured Hugo Lloris, was called into action again on 22 minutes when Eric Dier’s short pass back to his defence was pounced upon by Mo Salah, who burst through and let fly but Vorm saved well.
We weathered the early storm though and played well for a spell mid-way through the half, dominating possession if not carving out any noteworthy chances. The best came from the boot of Eriksen, who drilled a 22-yard free-kick right of centre past the edge of the Liverpool wall but Alisson gathered low down to his right.
Ironically it was during our good spell that the visitors took the lead on 39 minutes. James Milner sent his corner right into the middle of the six-yard box where a cluster of players had gathered, Vorm mistimed his punch clear, Dier was able to head away but only as far as Wijnaldum, who looped a header over Kieran Trippier and, although Vorm, pushed the ball out, it had already crossed the line.
It was a lively start to the second period, both sides going close. First, Mane’s shot on the turn from inside the area was parried away by Vorm while at the other end Lucas so nearly levelled it up when he collected Eriksen’s pass wide on the left and burst past a couple of challenges into the area, only to drag his shot wide of the near post via the woodwork.
Liverpool then added their second nine minutes after the interval. Andy Robertson clipped down the left flank for Mane whose low cross was deflected against the post by Jan Vertonghen, Vorm couldn’t collect the ball and Firmino slammed home from virtually on the goal-line.
It probably should have been 3-0 on 63 minutes when Liverpool countered with a three-against-two attack, but Vorm pushed Naby Keita’s effort over the bar.
In the closing stages, our goalkeeper produced another good save to deny Salah, while substitute Lamela was just wide from 18 yards as he burst through the middle of the Liverpool defence. The Argentine did find the back of the net in the 93rd minute, collecting a corner at the back post and driving right-footed past Alisson.
That led to some late drama that had seemed unlikely for so long, with another substitute, Son, back from the Asian Games, weaving his way inside the area in the dying seconds, but he fired wide and the final whistle sounded moments later.
With the score at 1-0 to the visitors, the next goal was always going to be pivotal to the contest and had Lucas taken his chance early in the second half, the game may have panned out differently.
The in-form Brazilian did all the work himself, hugging the left touchline when he picked up Eriksen’s pass before jinking past a couple of Liverpool tackles and advancing into the area. A curler into the far corner looked the obvious finish but Lucas gave his compatriot Alisson the eyes and instead went for the near post.
Unfortunately he pulled the effort too much to the left and it went just wide via the upright, but it lifted the crowd as we attempted to find a way back into the contest. However, it was Liverpool who struck next to double their advantage, making Lucas’ opportunity all the more important in the context of the game.
“When we started the second half, there were some massive chances for us to score,” said manager Mauricio Pochettino. “We hit the post with Lucas Moura – that should have changed the game but then we conceded the second goal and it was difficult. The team kept pushing and if a penalty was given to Sonny (right at the end) we would be talking in a different way about character and personality.
“Liverpool is a great team. I think that we made a lot of mistakes and we were punished by a team that (makes it) difficult when you concede these chances.”
Goalscorer Lamela added: “I am pleased for my goal but next time I hope that it helps the team to win. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to score again because the game was finishing. We created one more chance to draw but the game after that was finished and unfortunately it was another defeat. But like I’ve said before, I believe in this team and we will try to get better.”
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Spurs 1-2 Liverpool
Spurs (4-4-2): Vorm, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Dier (Wanyama 82), Dembele (Lamela 60), Eriksen, Winks (Son 73), Lucas, Kane (c). Substitutes (not used): Gazzaniga, Aurier, Sanchez, Davies.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold (Matip 90), Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Milner (c), Keita (Sturridge 83), Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino (Henderson 74), Mane. Substitutes (not used): Mignolet, Moreno, Fabinho, Shaqiri.
Goals: Spurs – Lamela 90+3; Liverpool – Wijnaldum 39, Firmino 54.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
Venue: Wembley Stadium.
Weather: Sunny, gentle breeze, 20 degrees.