Two days after a dismal Merseyside derby, football-heads around the world were relishing the encounter between the Premiere League’s top two teams in 2015. The return of Daniel Sturridge was in the forefront of every Liverpool red while Tottenham were anticipating the league’s most prolific player Harry Kane to continue his rich vein of form. Preceding kickoff all eyes were on the illuminated pitch at Anfield.
But talking points and banter aside, this fixture has been a traditional goalfest-something that every neutral is keen on witnessing void of any emotion. Three points is priceless in a season where two spots in the top four seem up for grabs, something that both teams desperately needed.
Kane’s rabbit-out-of-the-hat showing against arsenal was a magnificent testament to Tottenham’s academy. It seems that it’s only a matter of time until one of Europe’s elite come to bank roll the Englishmen to the mainland. The recent emergence of Jordan Ibe has given the red half of Merseyside yet another glimmer of hope, Raheem Sterling being rested after picking up a knock on the weekend.
The atmosphere was electric prior to kickoff and the game started as rampant as anyone could imagine, end-to-end and electrifying.
Tottenham had an early penalty shout as Kane appeared to go down under contact from Martin Skrtle, but Referee Phil Dowd wasn’t convinced, which replays suggested was the correct call. After few wayward Tottenham back passes sent Daniel Sturridge clean through, his lack of match fitness was for all to see as he wasted two opportunities barreling down on Hugo Lloris.
Liverpool were lucky when they finally found the breakthrough, the clearance rebounding off of Sturridge and into the path of a spry Lazar Markovich. The midfielder darted to the top of the box, dragging his left-footed shot into the bottom corner of Lloris’ net.
The celebrations wasn’t to last long though, Spurs coming to life and equalizing after a defensive slip by Mamadou Sahko allowed Kane the time and effort to continue his goal-scoring streak, placing him on 23 for the season.
The first half included more chances for the returning Sturridge, seeing his cheeky back-heel effort crash against the post in front of the Kop in first half stoppage time as both teams went into the tunnel level.
The second half saw Spurs on the front foot as the reds were chasing shadows in the opening minutes. Philippe Coutinho being well managed by the spurs high-pressing midfield. But it was Sturridge who was to make the impact next, skinning two men before going down under contact. The ever-reliable Steven Gerrard stepping up and pioneering past a flailing Lloris celebrating as if he knows he’ll not have many more chances in front of the Anfield Road stands.
Spurs were determined and convincing as they moved the ball around. Their second was a result of a questionable foul called by Dowd on Gerrard, handing the captain a yellow after he appeared to get all ball. The resulting free kick was brilliantly saved by Simon Mingolet but couldn’t be cleared by the infamously naïve Liverpool backline as the ball was sent back into Dembele to convert. Cries for offside fell on deaf ears and for the second time spurs drew level.
Anfield was on pins and needles when Sturridge was substituted for the lackluster Mario Balotelli. But the drama was only beginning to come to a head. After chances were exchanged by both sides, it was another substitute, Adam Lallana, who intervened. After skinning the Tottenham left back he drove a low cross in the area, finding the outside of Balotelli’s right boot and into the roof of the net sending Anfield into rapture.
After Tottenham threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Kop end, the electric rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone held assurance that three points were not escaping their grasp.
The result catapulted Liverpool ahead of West Ham, one point behind fifth-placed spurs and only 3 points behind 4th place Arsenal. The reds can now focus their attention to the FA Cup visit to Crystal Place on the Weekend something high on the list for both Brendan Rodgers and Gerrard.
Written by Kyle Hufnagel