Tottenham – Liverpool: Sadio Mane scored and set up two others as Liverpool burst out of its scoreless funk and into the win column with an impressive 3-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.
Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold also scored for the reigning Premier League champions, who move back into the top four with 37 points. Man City leads the league with 41 points and has played one fewer match than the four closest rivals for the crown.
[ MORE: Player ratings for Tottenham, Liverpool ]
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s smashed answer was Tottenham’s only goal on a day that mistakes doomed them and Harry Kane did not emerge for the second half after two first-half injuries.
Spurs’ 33 points are good for sixth, four points back of Liverpool. Tottenham has a match-in-hand on the Reds.
Three things we learned from Tottenham – Liverpool
1. Mane a menace: Sadio Mane was everywhere over the first hour or so, taking seven shots and scoring one. Hugo Lloris stifled his bids to score thrice before Mane finally broke onto the scoresheet, and the Senegalese only misplaced four passes while making four interceptions for Liverpool.
2. Spurs have indecisive moment at the worst time: Tottenham conceded a goal with essentially the last meaningful kick of the first half when Aurier lost track of Mane and the Senegalese controlled the ball with his chest before passing through the six. Eric Dier didn’t try to divert the ball given his close range and Hugo Lloris was slow to react when Mane passed instead of shooting. The unclaimed ball was an easy goal for Firmino and not emblematic of a focused first half of defense from Spurs.
3. Kane, Matip injuries bear watching: Spurs star Harry Kane spent two spells on the turf in the first half and did not return for the second half. Liverpool center back Joel Matip also left at the break, and both players have enough injury history to leave their fans a bit worried with the transfer window about to close and big games ahead for both.
Man of the Match: Sadio Mane
Tottenham – Liverpool recap
It might’ve been 1-1 after four minutes, as Sadio Mane missed a wonderful chance after a Trent Alexander-Arnold long ball found him on the other side of Serge Aurier to meet a Mohamed Salah through ball.
Spurs then put a number on the scoreboard only to see it removed for offside after Tanguy Ndombele escaped the clutches of Thiago Alcantara to find Harry Kane, who put Heung-min Son on goal for a fine finish.
But the South Korean was offside by mere inches on Ndombele’s pass to Kane.
Harry Kane needed some treatment on the turf after 12 minutes but would not have to sub out of the match.
No sooner had Liverpool taken an apparently comfortable hold of the game that Hugo Lloris caught a Roberto Firmino shot to begin a counterattack that ended with Alisson stopping a low Son shot.
Lloris made an outstanding save when Salah chipped a pass to Mane in the 23rd. The Senegalese winger was everywhere, and Rodon made a perfect lunging tackle on Mane in the 18 to keep it scoreless in the 37th before Lloris halted a vicious Mane strike before half.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Liverpool took a lead into the break with a goal deep in stoppage time, Mane blazing past Aurier to put a bounding pass between Eric Dier and Hugo Lloris that the keeper might’ve gathered on another day. Instead, it met Firmino for a tap-in.
The Reds sent a warning sign within moments of the second half restart, Salah blazing over before Lloris turned a Mane shot to the back post where Alexander-Arnold made no mistake with a shot back across goal for 2-0.
Hojbjerg had an emphatic answer with his first goal in 57 league games, smashing from just outside the arc with the outside of his boot. Alisson Becker had not chance.
WHAT A STRIKE FROM HOJBJERG. 💥 pic.twitter.com/ioLocKnBGC
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) January 28, 2021
Salah then hammered a shot off the bottom of Harry Winks’ studs to make it 3-1, but VAR had a handball to monitor in the buildup.
Martin Atkinson was sent to the pitchside monitor, where he said Firmino’s handball was enough to disallow the goal.
Mane got his goal in the 675th minute, Alexander-Arnold’s cross chested by Rodon onto the path of the Senegalese for 3-1.