Roberto Firmino

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Liverpool makes history versus wasteful Spurs

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Liverpool scored an early and withstood a furious Tottenham Hotspur charge to pick up a 1-0 win in North London on Saturday.

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Roberto Firmino was the goal scorer as Liverpool improved to 20W-1D, becoming the first club in Europe’s Top Five leagues to take 61 of 63 points to start a season.

Tottenham is now nine points back of the Top Four.


Key numbers

14: Spurs out-attempted Liverpool 14-13.

68: Liverpool carried nearly 70 percent of the ball.

39: Spurs hoofed almost 40 clearances compared to Liverpool’s nine.

1: Japhet Tanganga made his first Premier League start for the Spurs.

Man of the Match: Firmino.


Premier League debutant Japhet Tanganga was baptized by fire, blocking a would-be Roberto Firmino goal in the second minute.

Lucas Moura worked past Joe Gomez to drill a shot wide of the near post in the fifth. Heung-Min Son drove 50 yards to miss with an 8th minute effort.

Dele Alli saw a lash deflected over the bar in the 13th minute as Spurs countered well again.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Christian Eriksen rolled a tame shot to Alisson Becker in the 22nd.

Liverpool found danger through Salah a minute later, the Egyptian chipping to the back post where Virgil Van Dijk was denied by Paulo Gazzaniga.

The Reds went in front through Firmino, who turned past Tanganga and fired past the outstretched arms of Gazzaniga.

Virgil van Dijk slid to block a Dele Alli shot, and Serge Aurier ripped the chance into the arms of Alisson Becker. At the other end, Firmino stung Gazzaniga’s palms.

Heung-min Son saw deflected shot earn Spurs a corner in the 60th, but it came to nothing.

Gazzaniga then made a tight reaction save on Mane to keep it 1-0.

Spurs then took hold of the match, though they coudn’t find an equalizer. Serge Aurier picked out Giovani Lo Celso at the back for a sliding effort that somehow missed the frame.

Erik Lamela bounded a shot to Alisson in the 89th as Spurs kept pushing for an equalizer.

Three things we learned: Leicester v. Liverpool

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Liverpool beat Leicester City 4-0 on Boxing Day to extend their lead atop the Premier League table to 13 points, as the Reds also have a game in hand over the Foxes and have taken 52 points from a possible 54 points.

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Man City sit in third and 14 points behind Liverpool as the halfway point in the season is almost here and at this rate Liverpool will have the title wrapped up by March…

Jurgen Klopp‘s side were dominant throughout as Roberto Firmino set them on their way, James Milner scored a penalty kick and then Firmino and the brilliant Trent Alexander-Arnold finished things off.

Here’s what we learned from a one-sided encounter at the King Power Stadium.


FIRMINO HAS FOUND HIS MOJO

In the last week the real Roberto Firmino has returned. With winning goals in the Club World Cup semifinal and final, he helped Liverpool become world champions and his powerful header and calm finish on Boxing Day at the King Power Stadium has gone a long way to making Liverpool Premier League champions. Before this purple patch Firmino had scored just once in 17 games in all competition for Liverpool, as his excellent early season form had evaporated and it was put down to a busy summer with Brazil at the Copa America.

Firmino has rediscovered his mojo and his penchant for delivering in the big moments has returned. Seeing his pearly whites on full show is always a good sign that he is back to his best and he even popped up with a few other chances on Boxing Day but didn’t bury them. Firmino’s hunger, and mojo, has returned.


FOXES FLAT AS TITLE HOPES ALL BUT OVER

They’ve now drawn with Norwich and been hammered by Man City and Liverpool in their last three games and Leicester City’s bubble has burst. They may still finish in the top four this season, which would be an incredible achievement, but against Liverpool they were their own worst enemies as they gave the ball away time and time again and never looked like threatening the league leaders.

This was a humbling day for former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, as the focus will now switch to regrouping and making sure they can finish in the top four with a solid second half of the season but they are only 10 points clear of fifth place Tottenham. The way they were battered by Liverpool could be more harmful than just a single defeat, and it will be Rodgers’ job to now pick his young side up after so many had off days, with the likes of James Maddison and Youri Tielemans totally dominated. This Leicester side had the best defensive record going into this game but they were simply ripped to shreds.


FIT-AGAIN KEITA, TAA ADD EXTRA DIMENSION TO RAMPANT LIVERPOOL

Liverpool’s machine continues to roar on as they took a huge step towards winning their first league title in over 30 years. They were dominant throughout against Leicester and a few different players are stepping up time and time again this season. Naby Keita has been sublime since returning from injury, while Trent Alexander-Arnold’s form has been otherworldly. His goal and two assists were added to by his incredible long-range passes, and TAA is still just 21 years old, which is amazing.

He and Keita add an extra dimension to Liverpool and even though Salah and Mane were fairly quite on Thursday, it didn’t matter. With Jordan Henderson digging deep in midfield, Keita’s forward runs and dribbling add an extra cutting edge. We often focus on individuals but this is a total team effort. Liverpool have lost just one of their last 57 Premier League games and have won 26 of their last 27 PL outings, with the only dropped points coming away at Man United earlier this season. They are a winning machine and key cogs, and new ones, are coming to the fore time and time again.

Liverpool win Club World Cup, beat Flamengo

AP
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Liverpool are officially the best club team on the planet. The Premier League leaders won the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup on Saturday as they beat Flamengo 1-0 in the final in Doha, Qatar.

Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game in the 99th minute, as Jurgen Klopp‘s reigning European champs beat the South American champions in a draining, tense final.

The Reds have never won the Club World Cup and they become just the second Premier League club, after Manchester United in 2008, to win the title.

They are the first English team to hold three international trophies in the same year.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Naby Keita should have put Liverpool 1-0 up early after Jordan Henderson set Mohamed Salah free over the top and he set up the onrushing Keita who fired high and wide.

Trent Alexander-Arnold flashed a shot just wide from distance as Liverpool dominated the early stages.

Flamengo improved drastically as Bruno Henrique caused Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez plenty of problems, with Gabigol sniffing around for a chance.

Liverpool came flying out of the traps in the second half as Roberto Firmino hit the post then Salah flicked a shot just wide.

Flamengo answered as Gabigol’s low shot was pushed wide by Alisson as the Brazilian giants impressed.

Salah then smashed over after catching Flamengo on the break as Liverpool huffed and puffed in the latter stages.

Gabigol sent an acrobatic effort in on goal which Alisson scrambled to save and then came Liverpool’s predictable late onslaught.

Salah had a shot blocked then Jordan Henderson’s superb shot was tipped over by Diego Alves and a huge moment of controversy arrived in stoppage time.

Sadio Mane was played in and Rafinha appeared to trip him as he raced in on goal as the referee awarded a penalty kick. But VAR was used and no penalty was awarded as the game went to extra time.

Firmino then struck in extra time as a counter attack led by Mane saw him flick the ball to Firmino and the Brazilian striker slotted home to spark wild scenes of celebration.

In the 119th minute Flamengo had their best chance of the game to score but Lincoln fired over, as the European champions were crowned as the best club team on the planet.

Preview: Liverpool to face Flamengo in Club World Cup final

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Already the reigning kings of Europe, Liverpool will go for global glory when they face Brazilian side Flamengo in the final of the 2019 Club World Cup on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET) in Doha, Qatar.

[ MORE: Klopp: “So many strange things happened” in CWC semifinal win ]

Jurgen Klopp‘s side advanced to the final on Roberto Firmino’s stoppage-time winner to defeat Mexican side Monterrey in Wednesday’s semifinal. Naby Keita opened the scoring in the 12th minute, but Rogelio Funes Mori drew the CONCACAF Champions League winners level just two minutes, and Liverpool were in for a tough fight the rest of the way.

Monterrey out-shot Liverpool 16 to 12 (8 to 6 on target) and nearly became the first side to defeat the UEFA Champions League winner since 2012, when fellow Brazilian side Corinthians topped Chelsea in the final.

The Reds were were without superstar defender Virgil Van Dijk (illness) on short notice, forcing Klopp to drop Jordan Henderson back to center back alongside Joe Gomez. At this point, it is unknown whether or not Van Dijk will be recovered to feature in the final.

Klopp described it as a thoroughly “strange” game. Given the absence of Van Dijk and the chaotic nature of the game up until Firmino’s late winner, Klopp said after the game, “I was afraid of extra time, to be honest.”

[ MORE: Solskjaer, Rashford excited for Manchester Derby in League Cup semis ]

While the Club World Cup is clearly a secondary competition for Liverpool this season, James Milner was clear about one thing after Wednesday’s great escape: they are far from satisfied with having won one trophy — it’s dynasty or bust.

“It was important to get that first trophy on the board. We were unfortunate not to win in a few finals but you see how the team has moved on. Like I said before, we don’t want to be remembered as the team who won one trophy once. You want to be a part of a group where you forget which year you won one trophy.”

Flamengo advanced with a 3-1 victory over Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal. After falling behind in the first 20 minute, Flamengo stormed back with a trio of second-half goals.

Klopp: ‘So many strange things happened’ in Club World Cup semifinal win

Club World Cup Liverpool
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was happy to survive a scare in his Club World Cup semifinal on Wednesday.

The Reds got a late goal from super sub Roberto Firmino to get past game Liga MX side Monterrey 2-1 in Qatar.

Liverpool will now meet Brazilian side Flamengo in Saturday’s final at 12:30 p.m. ET

“So many strange things happened,” Klopp said, via The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle. “It was the most offensive midfield I have ever put out in a competitive game. Henderson center back for the first time. We didn’t have much height at center back.”

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Klopp started Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez at center back, as Virgil Van Dijk was sick and both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren have injuries.

He left Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Trent Alexander-Arnold on the bench, but needed all of them after Naby Keita‘s goal was leveled by Rogelio Funes Mori.

“I was afraid of extra time, to be honest,” Klopp said. “I was more than happy when Bobby scored that goal. We had to do a few changes as we had no other options. We left players out so we could have the opportunity if the game wasn’t decided. That Bobby scored was just wonderful.”

Monterrey had a fine night, and coach Antonio Mohamed had perhaps the best quote of the night when asked about Gomez not being given a second yellow card.

“For me, there was a red card especially the first foul and the second. So I talked to the referee, maybe the Liverpool shirt has more weight therefore the Liverpool player (Gomez) wasn’t sent off.”

Heavy shirts, team. Heavy ones.