The good, the bad and the ugly for Tottenham as Liverpool snatch dramatic victory at Anfield
Tottenham suffered heartbreak at Anfield as Diogo Jota’s stoppage-time winner earned Liverpool a dramatic 4-3 victory, just seconds after Richarlison appeared to have completed a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down.
Spurs trailed by three goals inside 15 minutes through Curtis Jones and Luiz Dias and a Mohamed Salah penalty, suggesting they were on course for another humiliating away thrashing after last weekend’s 6-1 defeat to Newcastle.
But Harry Kane volleyed home to give the visitors hope before half-time and Heung-min Son and Cristian Romero both struck the post before the Korean beat the offside trap to make it 3-2.
Substitute Richarlison thought he had rescued Spurs a point with his first League goal for the club but Jota pounced on Lucas Moura’s error moments later to further damage Spurs’ European hopes.
The good, the bad and the ugly
On the plus side, Spurs’ fightback from 3-0 down to within seconds of a well-deserved point suggested, for the second time this week, that there is still quality and spirit in this group.
Ryan Mason will take the positives, and there were plenty; Spurs showed character to stage another fightback against a big-six rival, after coming from 2-0 down to draw with Manchester United on Thursday, and did enough to win the game.
In less than a week in the job, the acting head coach has made some effective tweaks, and Son was back to something like his former self, exploiting the space behind Liverpool’s high defensive line with a series of darting runs.
Pedro Porro and Ivan Perisic, who assisted Kane’s volley, were dangerous going forward, even if they both struggle going the other way, and Oliver Skipp was committed and lively. Allowing Kane to drop deep has increased Spurs’ creativity without limiting his goal-threat.
For all their problems, Spurs look a good side when they are on the front foot, which should raise optimism that a progressive new manager can quickly get a tune out of the core of this squad.
On the down side, another dreadful start and the manner of Jota’s late winner again raised questions about the quality of Spurs defensively and the mentality of the players.
The big problem for Mason is that Spurs’ defending has gone to pot but he has few options to shake things up.
He can hardly risk going to back four after what happened at Newcastle. Eric Dier and Cristian Romero both deserve to be dropped but the alternatives are Davinson Sanchez (booed by his own supporters against Bournemouth), youngster Japhet Tanganga and on-loan Clement Lenglet.
On the ugly side, Mason was adamant that substitute Jota should not have been on the pitch for a studs-up challenge which left Skipp needing stitches in his head. He had a point. It was strange that the VAR did not intervene to recommend a red card against the Portuguese, a decision which cost Spurs.
Mixed afternoon for Spurs’ Brazilians
Jota’s winner felt particularly cruel on Richarlison, who has needed a moment to spark his difficult first season at Spurs into life and thought he had it with a brave header from Son’s free-kick.
Booed onto the pitch and with every touch by Liverpool fans, there was a certain inevitability about Richarlison levelling the match but his wild celebrations were remarkably short-lived as Jota finished from Lucas’s mistake 99 seconds later.
Richarlison caused Liverpool problems when he was introduced and was perhaps had a case for a penalty at 3-2 when he was handled by Ibrahima Konate, even if he went down easily.
He was unlucky to be dropped after causing United problems down the left, and his goal should be enough to keep him in the side against Crystal Palace next week at the expense of the out-of-form Dejan Kulusevski.
Spurs’ other Brazilian substitute, however, should not play again for the club.
Lucas will forever be a Spurs cult hero for Amsterdam but he has now cost the side on Merseyside in successive appearances, after his rash sending off at Goodison Park.
His loose touch for Jota was his only contribution and Mason deserves a share of the blame for a strange sub. Going forward, it would be far better to give late cameos to a young player with a Spurs future. They could hardly do any worse.