Ten-man Liverpool missed the chance to close the gap on leaders Manchester City following an enthralling and incident-packed 2-2 draw at Tottenham.
The visitors started brightly but fell behind on 13 minutes when Harry Kane slotted home Tanguy NDombele’s lovely through ball to net only his second league goal of the season.
Antonio Conte’s men, who were playing their first match in two weeks following a Covid-19 outbreak at the club, then blew a raft of clear-cut chances with Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli guilty of failing to take advantage of a Liverpool defence that looked far too porous in the absence of Virgil van Dijk.
The away side were finding Tottenham’s intensity uncomfortable to deal with on the counter attack and they were left fuming when Kane escaped with a yellow card despite making a dangerous lunge on Andy Robertson.
The Merseysiders remained a threat themselves and did pull level on 35 minutes when Diogo Jota snared his 10th Premier League goal of the season with a smart header from Robertson’s cross.
Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur and Andy Robertson of Liverpool collide during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on December 19, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty)
Image credit: Getty Images
Jota then saw a penalty appeal turned down and Jurgen Klopp was cautioned as his anger boiled over on the touchline in a first half that almost had everything.
The pattern continued following the interval with Liverpool dictating but being caught out on the break. Kane wasted two gilt-edged chances to restore Spurs’ lead before Robertson headed in Trent Alexander Arnold’s fizzing cross on 65 minutes.
Liverpool looked to finally have a grip on the game but then Alisson made a hash of cutting out a through ball to allow Son Heung-Min to roll into an empty net and level five minutes later.
The drama didn’t end there as Robertson was sent off for a challenge on Emerson Royal after VAR intervened and asked the referee to consult the monitor.
The result leaves Liverpool three points adrift of Manchester City in second spot. Spurs stay seventh and are six points off fourth-placed Arsenal having played three games less.
The two sides will now switch focus to the League Cup on Wednesday night with Liverpool scheduled to host Leicester and Tottenham at home to West Ham.
TALKING POINT - Spurs and Liverpool serve up one of the games' of the season so far.
It was a game both sides will feel they could and possibly should have won and may well point to refereeing decisions that didn't go their way. For Klopp and Liverpool there will be obvious disappointment as well as irritation.
VAR wasn’t interested in overturning Kane’s first-half yellow card for a nasty tackle but did intervene for Robertson’s challenge 13 minutes from time. The Merseysiders also felt they should have had a penalty prior to the interval. However, looking closer to home, the Reds clearly missed the calming influence of van Dijk in defence while the midfield shield was non-existent with Fabinho (covid), Thiago (covid) and Jordan Henderson (illness) absent.
As for Spurs, Conte will be delighted with the intensity of his team after missing a number of games with their own covid issues. On another day they would have made Liverpool pay for their defensive frailties but were far too wasteful. The Italian will be eager for Kane to rediscover a more clinical approach in front of goal after finally netting in the Premier League once again.
Of course, the real winners on a PL weekend of multiple postponements were Manchester City, who won convincingly and saw both of their main title rivals drop points.
MAN OF THE MATCH - Trent Alexander Arnold (Liverpool)
The Merseysiders’ full backs had a huge impact on the game. Robertson may well have won this award with a goal and an assist, but his red card for a rash tackle rules him out. Alexander Arnold was magnificent in the first period and chalked up yet another assist after the break.
SPURS: Lloris 7, Emerson Royal 7, Dier 6, Sanchez 6, Davies 6, Ndombele 7, Winks 7, Alli 6, Sessegnon 7, Son 7, Kane 7. Subs: Skipp 6, Lucas Moura n/a, Reguilon n/a.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 6, Alexander-Arnold 8, Konate 6, Matip 6, Robertson 6, Milner 6, Keita 6, Morton 6, Jota 7, Salah 6, Mane 6. Subs: Firmino 6, Gomez n/a, Tsimikas n/a.
02’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! From full back to full back. Trent Alexander Arnold picks out Andy Robertson's late run into the box but the Scot plants his header wide. Liverpool come again but James Milner's deflected 20-yard shot is easily smothered by Hugo Lloris.
13’ - GOAL! – Tottenham 1-0 Liverpool. Kane times his run to perfection to turn on to NDombele's clever pass and fire a low shot across Alisson and into the far corner.
16’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCES! It should be two. Kane gallops free down the right. He clips a ball into the centre for Son who can only guide wide on the stretch despite being completely unmarked. Just a moment late and Spurs are clear again. Son races completely free. Is he offside? No-one seems sure but he dallies looking to round Allison and the Liverpool keeper makes a crucial stop.
30’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! Alli is left in acres in the middle of the area to race on to Son's cute pass but he sees his firm shot that seems destined to find the corner tipped past the post by Alisson. That is superb goalkeeping!
35’ - GOAL! – Tottenham 1-1 Liverpool. Jota guides a wonderful header into the corner from Robertson's delightful cross.
56’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCES! Alli gets free on the left of the area and rolls it across for Kane who sees his attempted tap-in blocked by Alisson. The Spurs striker then heads over the top with the goal gaping after Liverpool failed to deal with a left-wing corner.
69’ - GOAL! – Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool. Robertson heads home Alexander Arnold's driven cross. Spurs are fuming as Alli had a soft penalty appeal turned down seconds earlier while Salah appeared to handle in the build up to the goal. VAR checks but the goal stands.
74’ - GOAL! – Tottenham 2-2 Liverpool. Son levels matters as Alisson makes a mess of cutting out a through ball and allows the Spurs man to roll into an empty net.
78’ – LIVERPOOL RED CARD! Robertson is sent off after the referee went to the monitor to look again at a wild challenge on Emerson. The full back was initially shown a yellow card until VAR intervened.
Kane scored his first home goal in the Premier League in 788 minutes of play, ending a run of eight league games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium without scoring.
Jota has scored 10 goals in a Premier League season for the first time in his career, while only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (8) and Christian Benteke (7) have scored more headed goals than his six since 2020-21.
Robertson is the first player to score, assist and be sent off in a Premier League game since Aleksandar Mitrovic in May 2016.
Liverpool have scored 50 goals in 18 games in the Premier League this season; the fewest games they have ever needed from the start of a top-flight campaign to hit a half century of league goals.