Liverpool’s willpower is keeping their Premier League title hopes alive, admitted manager Jurgen Klopp after his side moved back top of the table in dramatic fashion with a 2-1 win over Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday.
Toby Alderweireld’s own goal a minute from time moved Liverpool two points ahead of title rivals Manchester City.
Klopp’s men still need City to slip up in their remaining seven games as the champions have a game in hand.
However, Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’s error to parry the ball in off the unfortunate Alderweireld was reminiscent of Jordan Pickford’s mistake to also gift Divock Origi a late winner against Everton earlier in the season, suggesting Liverpool’s luck may be in this year.
“I told the boys after the game there are 500,000 ways probably to win a football game. Today it was rather ugly, but without a bit of luck you cannot be in the position we are,” said Klopp.
“If we are top of the table after the last matchday it would be a championship of will.”
Liverpool’s hopes of ending a 29-year wait to win the title looked set to be dealt a massive blow as Lucas Moura’s strike 20 minutes from time cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s early opener.
And the visitors will be left to regret Moussa Sissoko missing a huge chance to inflict Liverpool’s first home league defeat in nearly two years five minutes from time.
Spurs are now in serious danger of crashing out of the top four as they remain level on points with Manchester United and could be usurped by north London rivals Arsenal into third should the Gunners beat Newcastle on Monday.
“Overall I think we were better than Liverpool,” said Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino. “It is difficult to explain, but at the same time I am proud of the performance.”
Pochettino’s men remain without a Premier League win since February 10. However, the Argentine wants to set that record right at the opening night of the club’s new 62,000 capacity stadium against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.
“The new stadium must be a big boost for everyone,” said Pochettino. “I was telling the players in the changing room we have seven games and we are in top four and we need to compete. It’s a mini-league and, playing the way we played today, I think we can achieve the top four.”
– Kop delirium –
Spurs started brightly, but conceded with Liverpool’s first significant attack when Firmino headed home the opener on 16 minutes from a delightful Andy Robertson cross.
That was Robertson’s 12th assist of the season from left-back and the Scotland captain was involved again in a flowing move moments later as he forged down the left and neat touches from Salah and Georginio Wijnaldum teed up Sadio Mane to curl just wide.
Liverpool were thankful to Robertson at the other end after the break as he made a vital block to prevent Christian Eriksen firing home on the rebound after Alisson Becker was forced into his first save of the afternoon by Harry Kane.
Salah has now scored just once in his last 11 games and his wasted chance to give Liverpool some breathing space when Alderweireld blocked the Egyptian’s shot with Mane better placed and begging for a pass looked costly when Tottenham levelled.
Kane’s quick thinking and excellent long-range pass picked out Kieran Trippier, who fed Eriksen and his scuffed shot fell perfectly for Moura to turn home.
As Liverpool surged forward in search of a winner, Spurs could have picked them off as Sissoko blazed over with just Alisson to beat before Alli clipped a shot inches wide.
Instead, there was delirium in front of the Kop end when Lloris parried Salah’s header into Alderweireld and the ball ricocheted over the line to breathe fresh life into Liverpool’s title challenge. (AFP)