Liverpool kick-started their Premier League season in emphatic style with a 3-1 win at Tottenham, who lost Harry Kane to injury.
The Reds’ title defence had been left in tatters following a five-game winless run where they had scored just one goal, but they put that right against a team they have enjoyed beating in recent years.
A 482-minute goal drought was ended by Roberto Firmino on the stroke of half-time, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane bagging after the break to make it seven successive wins against Spurs.
The win, a first since December 19, takes Jurgen Klopp’s team back into the top four, four points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.
It was a painful night for Jose Mourinho’s side, who got back into the contest through Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s fine strike. Their chances of challenging for the title appear to have gone.
However, they will be more concerned about star man Kane, who did not reappear after the break after suffering an ankle injury in the first half. Spurs will be nervously waiting to see the extent of the issue.
— Premier League (@premierleague) January 28, 2021
It was December 27 when Liverpool last netted in the Premier League – Mane scoring against West Brom – and the same man had a golden chance to end that miserable drought with less than two minutes on the clock.
Mohammed Salah’s through-ball evaded Serge Aurier and sent Mane clear but, symptomatic of recent weeks, he shot wide.
Moments later Spurs thought they had gone in front as Kane sent Son Heung-min clear and the South Korean finished coolly. However, VAR intervened and ruled that Son was marginally offside in the build-up – and Liverpool had a reprieve.
The Reds dominated possession, and enjoyed territorial advantage, but Spurs hit them on the break and should have led midway through the first half.
Hugo Lloris’ long kick was laid off by Kane to Steven Bergwijn, who played in Son, but this time from a similar position to where his goal was disallowed he shot straight at goalkeeper Alisson.
Spurs’ night began to turn when Kane twice went down injured, appearing to suffer problems to both ankles which have proved troublesome in the past.
It was nervy at the back too as Liverpool continued to knock on the door and Mane tested Lloris with a fierce shot.
Finally, after more than eight hours since that Mane strike against the Baggies, Liverpool scored a Premier League goal.
Mane was played on by Ben Davies, Eric Dier did not take the opportunity to clear the cross and Firmino tapped in from close range.
After waiting so long, unsurprisingly a second followed soon after as they made it 2-0 after just 70 seconds of the second half, in which Kane did not feature.
Mane drifted into the area and his shot was saved by Lloris, but the Frenchman could only divert it back into danger with Alexander-Arnold slamming home the rebound.
It set the tone for an action-packed period at both ends of the pitch.
Spurs immediately got themselves back in the game with a fine strike by Hojbjerg, the Dane scoring his first goal for club with a thunderous effort from 25 yards.
But hopes of a comeback were short-lived as Liverpool took the game by the scruff of the neck.
They thought they had made it 3-1 in the 55th minute as Salah lashed home at the far post, but Firmino handled the ball in the build-up and it was ruled out.
That did not matter, though, as they did restore their two-goal advantage 10 minutes later through Mane.
He capitalised on an error by Joe Rodon, who failed to deal with Alexander-Arnold’s cross, by smashing past Lloris.
Liverpool were not ruthless enough to put Spurs to the sword, instead happy to see out their first league win of 2021.