Balls of steel! Henderson and Salah keep Liverpool’s machine rolling with Spurs comeback


The Reds recovered from conceding an early goal to re-open a six-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table

Some things are just too precious to let go of. 

Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season continues, their incredible home record goes on. 

They’ve got balls of steel, Jurgen Klopp’s side. They needed them here, battling back from a goal down to beat Tottenham 2-1 at Anfield. Their ninth league win of the campaign keeps the Reds six points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table.

It came thanks to a rare strike from captain Jordan Henderson, his first home goal in almost four years, and Mohamed Salah’s nerveless penalty, 15 minutes from time. Spurs had led through Harry Kane’s goal, but just as in the Champions League final, they were to leave with nothing. They must be sick of the sight of those red jerseys by now.

How the Kop roared. They’d watched their side fall behind inside the first minute, yet still muster the spirit, the energy and the courage for a rousing comeback. “Our mentality has improved,” said Henderson afterwards. “We have faced adversity.” 

Indeed, had it not been for the work of Paulo Gazzaniga, the Tottenham goalkeeper, their afternoon might have been a lot more comfortable. This was among Liverpool’s better performances this season.

Still, it can’t be good for your health, all this. 

It’s only October, but here we are. The Premier League title race has been well and truly on, and blood pressures are already through the roof.

Strap yourselves in. 

Manchester City’s routine win over Aston Villa on Saturday had cranked up the tension, but this response speaks volumes for Liverpool’s character. “Mentality giants,” Klopp calls them. They stood 10 feet tall here. They knew they’d win, even when it looked like they’d lose.

They’d been shocked by Kane’s opener, nodded in at the Kop end after just 47 seconds, but they should really have been ahead and cruising by half-time. Gazzaniga made saves from Salah, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, while Sadio Mane missed a golden chance. Somehow, Liverpool trailed at the break.

Could it be that their luck was about to run out? 

Jordan Henderson Liverpool 2019-20

Think again. Henderson, far from a universally-popular selection with supporters in midfield, had struggled in the first half but he was about to step up for his team after the interval, big time. Fabinho, majestic throughout, clipped a pass into the penalty area, Firmino and Danny Rose tangled and the round ball fell loose. The skipper did the rest, his left-footed strike into the far corner prompting wild celebrations. He hadn’t scored here since December 2015. He might not score many more important in the future. 

Spurs will reflect on a huge moment just before that when Son Heung-Min rounded Alisson Becker, only to see his shot strike the crossbar. Just as with Moussa Sissoko in this fixture back in March, the margins were with Liverpool. “They are getting those little breaks,” moaned Kane afterwards.

They certainly got one in the closing stages, when Serge Aurier’s clumsy challenge on Mane in the box drew a penalty. James Milner took the decisive one against Leicester here last time, but this time Salah stepped up to dispatch it past Gazzaniga for his eighth goal of the season, low and hard. The relief was palpable.

Liverpool saw it out professionally, with Fabinho immense in the middle and Alisson the calmest man in the stadium during four excruciating minutes of added time. At the final blast of Anthony Taylor’s whistle, the party began. “How football should look,” said Klopp. “I loved it.”

What a win. Reports of Spurs’ demise have been greatly exaggerated. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have quality in abundance, and certainly know how to cause Liverpool problems.

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They don’t, though, have a way to beat them at the moment.

Not many do, in fairness. The mentality giants march on.

Balls of steel. 


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