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Reds escape with the spoils - match report and debrief

Spurs 1-3 Liverpool

Thu 28 January 2021, 22:10|Tottenham Hotspur

We suffered our first defeat of 2021 on Thursday evening as Liverpool took the points with a 3-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Despite a magnificent first Spurs goal from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, we were always playing catch-up in the game as the visitors led 2-0 and then 3-1 after the Dane’s strike had given us brief hope of a comeback. We also lost Harry Kane to injury at half-time to add to a difficult night all round.

A lively start to the contest saw us put the ball in the net after just three minutes, Heung-Min Son racing through and converting past Alisson, only for VAR to rule out the goal as Son was offside by the finest of margins earlier in the move. Both sides had further chances in the half but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock four minutes into first-half stoppage time when Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier appeared to leave Sadio Mane’s low cross for each other to deal with and the ball ran through for Roberto Firmino to tap home.

Just two minutes into the second half, they doubled their lead when Mane’s low curler was pushed out by Lloris and Trent Alexander-Arnold ran onto the loose ball and smashed it into the far corner. We hit back immediately though – just one minute and 56 seconds later in fact – as Steven Bergwijn laid the ball into the path of Hojbjerg who hit an absolute screamer from 25 yards that flew past Alisson to open his account in our colours.

Then it was our turn to benefit from a VAR decision in the 56th minute as a Liverpool counter ended with Mo Salah firing home, but referee Martin Atkinson was advised to go and look at the pitchside monitor to check for a handball by Firmino earlier in the move, spotting the infringement and disallowing the goal.

Nine minutes later though, it was 3-1 to the visitors when the otherwise impressive Joe Rodon failed to deal with Alexander-Arnold’s deep ball into the area and Mane beat Lloris from eight yards out. We kept plugging away to find a route back into the match, but neither side really created any further chances of note as the clock ran out.

Early hope fizzles out

The opening minutes were certainly full of drama and suggested an entertaining, close-fought game ahead and it did pan out that way in the first half. Just two minutes were on the clock when Mane and Salah played a one-two with the former lashing wide, before we went up the other end and had Son’s goal ruled out for offside. It was ever so tight, Son’s heel just ahead of Alexander-Arnold’s armpit when the VAR lines were drawn.

Mid-way through the half, Firmino drilled straight at Lloris and again, we went straight on the offensive and carved out a chance of our own, Son in again but his effort was easy for Alisson this time. Our captain then made a couple of great saves to deny Mane, first low down from close range before parrying away the striker’s powerful right-footed shot and it looked like we were going goalless into the break. But we conceded at the worst possible time with Firmino’s opener, the first goal Liverpool had scored in the Premier League for almost eight hours.

We made half-time changes with Kane and Serge Aurier replaced by Erik Lamela and Harry Winks, but just 25 seconds into the half, Salah had a chance to make it 2-0, only to fire wide, before Alexander-Arnold did find the target with his left-foot finish.

But we gave ourselves a real lift just two minutes later thanks to Hojbjerg’s wonderful strike, evoking memories of stunners from Erik Edman and Victor Wanyama in the past against Liverpool. Unfortunately though, this proved to be our last shot on target in the game as we struggled to break down the visitors’ defence – especially when Mane’s third goal gave them a two-goal cushion to defend. A disappointing night in N17.

Reguilon misses out, Kane forced off

Jose Mourinho made 10 changes from Monday night's FA Cup win at Wycombe, with Ben Davies the only player to stay in the starting XI. It was one change from our last Premier League outing at Sheffield United, with Matt Doherty coming in for the injured Sergio Reguilon.

Formation-wise, we started with three at the back in the shape of Davies, Dier and Rodon, with Doherty playing on the left of a four-man midfield with Aurier on the right and Tanguy Ndombele and Hojbjerg in the middle. Son and Bergwijn flanked Kane up front.

Kane had gone to ground twice in the first half and was withdrawn at half-time, replaced by Lamela, with Winks also coming on for Aurier and Doherty switched to his usual right-sided berth. Sadly, we couldn’t find a way back into the game and slipped to only our fourth league defeat of the season.

Reaction on Spurs TV

'Punished by our own mistakes'

Jose told Spurs TV afterwards: "I believe it was a very good, solid performance in the first half, with two mistakes, one in the first minute, one in the last minute. The mistake in the last minute took us to half-time at 1-0, then at half-time we lose Harry, and we come into the second half with good ambition, good determination, again, a defensive mistake brings the 2-0, good spirit, good reaction, Pierre’s goal, I think he reflects the spirit of the team, and again, when you are dominating, when you are in the opposition half, another mistake, unfortunately this time from a boy in Joe who for me played, so, so well. Again, punished by our own mistakes."

Spurs 1-3 Liverpool

Spurs (3-4-3): Lloris (c), Rodon, Dier, Davies, Aurier (Winks 46), Ndombele, Hojbjerg, Doherty, Bergwijn (Bale 81), Kane (Lamela 46), Son. Substitutes (not used): Hart, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Sissoko, Lucas, Vinicius.

Liverpool (4-3-3): Allison, Alexander-Arnold, Matip (Phillips 46), Henderson (c), Robertson, Wijnaldum, Thiago (Jones 78), Milner, Salah, Firmino (Origi 87), Mane. Substitutes (not used): Kelleher, Williams, Tsimikas, Shaqiri, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino.

Match data

Goals: Spurs – Hojbjerg 49; Liverpool – Firmino 45+4, Alexander-Arnold 47, Mane 65.

Yellow cards: Spurs – Bergwijn; Liverpool – Thiago, Phillips.

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Venue: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Weather: Thick cloud, moderate breeze, 11 degrees.