Match report: Firmino goal sends Reds 16 points clear with win at Spurs
Liverpool strode 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League with an accomplished 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur.
Roberto Firmino’s ice-cool finish eight minutes before half-time proved decisive on the Reds’ first visit to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Leicester City’s defeat earlier on Saturday meaning another victory increased their cushion at the summit.
Having controlled the vast majority of the match, Jürgen Klopp’s side successfully resisted patches of late Spurs pressure to register their sixth consecutive Premier League clean sheet.
The win also takes Liverpool’s points total to a staggering 61 from a possible 63 this season - another new record in a campaign of relentless brilliance.
61 - @LFC have won 61 points in the Premier League in 2019-20 - the most any side has ever registered after 21 game… https://t.co/xYAr2Q2lEt— OptaJoe (OptaJoe) 11th Jan 19:22
Klopp made 10 changes from last weekend’s victory over Everton, with only Joe Gomez retaining his place from that FA Cup success.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started in midfield, while Xherdan Shaqiri returned to the bench following his short injury lay-off. Takumi Minamino was also named among the visitors’ substitutes.
Liverpool served notice of their adeptness on the break within the first two minutes.
A Tottenham corner was cleared and Firmino played an elongated one-two with Oxlade-Chamberlain before cutting inside on his left foot to shoot.
The No.9’s effort beat Paulo Gazzaniga, but Japhet Tanganga read his intentions and got back to block the goalbound strike. Firmino then set up Oxlade-Chamberlain on the rebound, but the midfielder’s low attempt hit the inside of the post and bounced to safety.
With Lucas Moura and Son Heung-Min up top, Spurs also carried a threat on the counter, and both forwards sent shots from distance wide during a lively opening spell.
Once the game had settled down, it was the Reds who dictated its rhythm, with Tottenham content to sit in and seek to hurt the visitors in transition.
Midway through the half, an Andy Robertson corner that found its way to Jordan Henderson via Mohamed Salah could have resulted in the deadlock being broken, only for Virgil van Dijk to nod the captain’s clipped cross straight at Gazzaniga from close range.
A carefully-crafted move involving Liverpool’s front three brought about their next chance 10 minutes prior to the break.
Salah threaded a pass into Firmino down the left, and the Brazilian found Sadio Mane with a cross. The No.10 miscued an acrobatic volley, though, and the opportunity was gone.
Moments later, however, the Reds did take the lead as Firmino finished off another fine passing sequence.
Salah did well to nudge the ball towards his teammate, who evaded Tanganga with a glorious first touch before calmly slotting into the far corner.
The advantage was nearly quickly doubled too, as Salah bested Davinson Sanchez in a duel of pace and body strength but then shot off target.
Moura wriggled free and blasted an attempt wide almost immediately after the restart, but Liverpool quickly reasserted their authority.
An uncharacteristically poor connection from Trent Alexander-Arnold meant his shot from an inviting angle went wide, before Firmino’s attempted curler, enabled by Salah’s unselfish lay-off, was gathered by Gazzaniga.
Firmino’s sight of goal came after Van Dijk had made a crucial last-ditch tackle on Dele Alli at the other end, however - the Dutchman clearing up following a rare miscalculation from Gomez.
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s final contribution was a crucial one, the No.15 being replaced by Adam Lallana after he had diverted Son’s low attempt wide as Spurs looked to capitalise on Liverpool’s unusually merciful finishing.
With the game slipping away, Tottenham began to take more risks and Son and Giovani Lo Celso each spurned presentable chances to equalise as time ticked by, the latter particularly guilty as, unmarked, he slid a volley wide from Serge Aurier’s deep cross.
But, yet again, it was the Reds’ day as their march in pursuit of the title rolled on.
2️⃣1️⃣ Games 2️⃣0️⃣ Wins Relentless Reds! ✊ https://t.co/9jnE2a1yTU— LFC (Liverpool FC) 11th Jan 19:28