Liverpool made it 38 Premier League games unbeaten as Roberto Firmino‘s strike secured a 1-0 victory over a wasteful Tottenham side in north London. The hosts found themselves penned inside their own half for almost the entire first half as boss Jose Mourinho opted for a cautious approach against a formidable Reds frontline, but the plan seemed to be working thanks in part to an impressive debut from youngster Japhet Tanganga.
However, Firmino’s sick turn and finish gave the local boy a rude awakening and that strike ultimately proved the difference despite a late Tottenham rally, with Giovani Lo Celso blazing the hosts’ best opportunity wide from a pinpoint Serge Aurier delivery.
The stubborn Tottenham back line defended for their lives and kept the hosts in the game against a seemingly endless barrage of Liverpool attacks, with debutant Tanganga the pick of the bunch. Spurs improved drastically after the bench and looked the most likely to score in the closing stage as Mourinho’s men upped the intensity, with Lo Celso agonisingly close to snatching a point.
Spurs slipped to seventh in the Premier League table with a poor performance on home soil. In a hesitant first-half showing, there was a sense that Mourinho’s men were always delaying the inevitable as the hosts struggled to escape their own territory. Once Firmino fired the opener it seemed like game over even at 1-0, and some wasteful finishing made sure that proved to be the case.
Manager rating out of 10
Jose Mourinho, 6 — Forget having his hands tied behind his back, Mourinho has had his shoelaces tied together as well, such is Tottenham’s lack of depth. This was always going to be a tough afternoon for his side, but his decision to switch to a 4-3-3 helped trigger a Spurs fightback, while Lo Celso should have buried the leveller.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Paulo Gazzaniga, 7 — The stand-in keeper (with Hugo Lloris still sidelined) was relieved to see early strikes cannoned away by Tanganga and then the post, but he showed the perfect combination of instinct and strong hands to keep out Virgil van Dijk‘s close-range header when you would have put your house on the Reds scoring. Comfortably beaten by Firmino’s cool finish, but denied Sadio Mane with an excellent fingertip save.
DF Serge Aurier, 7 — Came close to hauling Spurs level with a powerful strike from inside the box having found himself in unfamiliar territory, but thankfully for Jurgen Klopp, Alisson showed superb hands to cling on to the thumping effort. Picked out Lo Celso with a sensational cross from the right, but the Argentine astonishingly couldn’t finish.
DF Davinson Sanchez, 5 — Struggled to cope with Sadio Mane’s excellent movement into the channels throughout the game. Looked a little feeble in one challenge with Mo Salah, which saw Sanchez end up on the floor, but his blushes were spared when Salah’s effort hammered into the advertising boards.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 6 — Like Sanchez and Tanganga alongside him, he threw himself at every ball in and around his penalty area. Unfortunately for the Spurs skipper, that’s not a tactic you can deploy for 90 minutes and there was only so much he could do to repel the rampant Reds’ attack.
DF Japhet Tanganga, 7 — Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! The 20-year-old debutant superbly hooked Firmino’s effort off the line before managing to steer a second strike from Oxlade-Chamberlain into Gazzaniga’s arms off the post. He showed plenty of confidence and authority to gallop out from the back, although he was humbled by Firmino’s wonderful turn and finish for the game’s only goal.
DF Danny Rose, 5 — Made his first appearance since Dec. 22, but he invited some early pressure following a desperate clearance straight to a red shirt following a dreadful touch that almost saw the ball drift straight out of play. In fairness, he improved from then on and did well to limit Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s number of attacking contributions.
MF Harry Winks, 4 — The 23-year-old has done more than enough to show his potential in the early stages of his career, but his contribution was minimal here and Spurs soaked up relentless pressure with little in response. The England man did little to stem the flow and his side found themselves pinned inside their own half with no escape route.
MF Christian Eriksen, 3 — It was a nightmare afternoon for the man who has so often been the architect Spurs can rely on in recent seasons. The Dane’s tame first-half shot was easily smothered by Alisson and the less said about his dreadful second-half free-kick, the better. Replaced in the 69th minute and received a round of boos for his troubles. A nasty way to go if he departs this month.
MF Lucas Moura, 6 — The Brazilian seemed determined to step up in Harry Kane‘s absence and he did seem the most likely man in white to grab a goal. He started brightly, calmly knocking the ball past Joe Gomez and skipping away from Jordan Henderson‘s challenge, before flashing his effort just wide of goal, but that was as close as he came on a day where he had to feed off scraps.
MF Dele Alli, 4 — Failed to make Tottenham tick on a frustrating afternoon where his best contributions all came inside the opening 20 minutes or so. The England man started strongly, winning an early corner off Alexander-Arnold inside 60 seconds, but that was as good as it got. He should have done better when he found himself bearing down on goal, but VAR would likely have intervened anyway had he not blazed his effort well over.
MF Son Heung-min, 6 — It was a typical display from the busy forward, who’s near-impossible to stop once he gets his head down and puts the burners on. He certainly gave Alexander-Arnold and Gomez plenty to think about in an energetic display, but his finishing was wasteful and he dragged his best opportunity wide after the break.
MF Giovani Lo Celso, 6 — Replaced Danny Rose in the 69th minute. Fired a delicious low cross across the face of goal as the game entered the final 10 minutes, but there was no white shirt on the end of it. Fired an unbelievable late chance wide of goal, somehow.
MF Erik Lamela, 6 — Replaced Christian Eriksen in the 69th minute. Combined well with Lo Celso but the latter’s teasing cross came to nothing. Span away from his marker with a slick turn, but his strike from the edge of the box was easily smothered by Alisson.