Football Features

“One of the toughest games I’ve ever faced” – Player ratings as Spurs dent Liverpool’s title hopes with brave draw

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:20, 7 May 2022

In a gripping night of football, Spurs held Quadruple-chasing Liverpool to a stunning 1-1 draw at Anfield.

The result sends Liverpool top of the Premier League table on goal difference but gives Manchester City a game in-hand to go three points clear atop the division with just three games left to play.

Here’s how the players rated at Anfield:


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Liverpool

Alisson – 7 – Made some big interventions when he had to. Helpless on the Spurs goal.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7 – Put in some amazing crosses that Spurs somehow kept getting in the way of.

Ibrahima Konaté – 6 – Rock solid at the back albeit he did far too much ball-watching on the Spurs goal, allowing Son (his man) to run off him into space.

Virgil van Dijk – 6 – Another calm night for the big Dutchman but he was surprisingly ball-watchy for Spurs’ goal, ignoring the run of Son who ended scoring from his zone.

Andrew Robertson – 6 – Not quite at his best as an offensive force. Subbed with Liverpool chasing a goal.

Fabinho – 6 – Patrolled the space ahead of his defence well for the most part, cutting off Spurs counters with well-timed fouls and tackles. Oddly passive when tracking Kane on the Son goal, however.

Jordan Henderson – 7 – Bursting full of energy. A superb tackle in the first-half stopped Harry Kane getting a clean look at goal.

Thiago – 7 – Slung the ball around with the pitch outrageous ease. Completed 90/99 passes and created 3 chances. Liverpool ran to the beat of his drum and while it kept Spurs pinned back in their own half, it couldn’t break them down.

Mohamed Salah – 5 – Thoroughly ineffective as Spurs put the clamps on him.

Luis Diaz – 7 – Never stopped running at Spurs with the ball. Scored a massive equaliser via a deflected effort, and his celebration showed how much he has bought into the spirit at the club,

Sadio Mané – 4 – Was he even on the pitch. This was perhaps the first game in a while where Liverpool really missed having Roberto Firmino on the bench to come on and duel with the Spurs centre-backs like an actual centre-forward.



Liverpool Substitutes:

Kostas Tsimikas (for Robertson 64′) – 6 – Added a lot more impetus than Robertson but it wasn’t enough.

Diogo Jota (for Henderson 65′) – 5 – Wasn’t bad, per se, but had no real impact on proceedings.

Naby Keita (for Fabinho 88′) – 5 – Got booked.



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Spurs

Hugo Lloris – 8 – An impressive showing in goal. His clawing save from a dodgy back header prevented Salah from giving Liverpool an easy and early lead and he remained in that kind of mood for the rest of the game.

Cristian Romero – 9 – A moving brick wall at the heart of defence. Whenever a dangerous pass came into the Spurs box it was Romero who inevitably got himself in the way and thundered it away.

Eric Dier – 8 – Has been truly transformed by Antonio Conte, finally making good on his immense potential with a stonking 11 clearances.

Ben Davies – 9 – Absolutely magnificent. The best player on the pitch playing centre-back. Has been absolutely transformed under Conte. His block from one Salah shot in particular was so good it almost defied belief. Overall this was the kind of rugged display that wouldn’t have looked out of place any of Conte’s Inter, Chelsea or Juventus sides. Giorgio Chiellini would have loved it.

Emerson Royal – 8 – Conte has worked his wing-back magic once again as Emerson, who has looked a dud since joining from Barcelona (where he also looked a dud) put in a defensive display worthy of Javier Zanetti. Constantly in the right position and even played a booming long-ball to start the move for the goal.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 7 – Defended well but burst forward with surprising aplomb in the first-half especially to ensure that Spurs didn’t drop too close to their own goal. However he missed a glorious chance to win it at the end.

Rodrigo Bentancur – 7 – A hard-working display in midfield as he helped hoik the ball clear, but wasted a few good chances to properly advance the ball when in possession.

Ryan Sessegnon – 7 – Pitched in to help in defence and made some bright forward runs. Kept his head to set Son up to score.

Dejan Kulusevski – 7 – Ran his hart out on the Spurs right, dicing up Spurs defenders with 3/8 take-ons completed.

Son Heung-min – 8 – Scored a simple finish but his movement to get into position for that tap-in was absolutely magical, simultaneously creating space for the pass wide to Sessegnon while also ensuring he was going to be unmarked as the defenders obviously followed the ball moving in the opposite direction. That was Son’s 20th Premier League goal of the season, which is three more than anyone else if you discount penalties. A world-class goalscorer who deserves far more recognition than he gets.

Post-match, Son said: “I’m really really really tired, this was I think one of the toughest games I’ve ever faced,” but wasn’t overly pleased with the point, showing Spurs’ new mentality under Conte: “It’s a big point, but I’m a bit gutted that with the last chance we didn’t quite make it.”

On the counter-attack that led to his goal, Son said: “we work a lot about these kind of situations, we know where to be, we know where to run, which player will be free. So I think this was perfect, our game-plan, was a good team play; but it should be more.”

Finally, Son had a word of warning for every other team chasing the top four: “I want to play Champions League next season, this is clear.”

Harry Kane – 8 – Didn’t bother the stat sheet but what a magnificent display of centre-forward football from Harry Kane. The Englishman stood tall with his hold-up play and his passing. Despite lacking pace he was exceptional on the counter-attack and his play in the build-up to the Spurs goal was downright Messi-esque as he dribbled across the pitch, shifting Liverpool’s whole defence with his gravitational pull.

Spurs Substitutes:

Davinson Sanchez (for Sessegnon 78′) – 7 – Instantly hit the rhythm of the game, putting in a few key blocks.

Harry Winks (for Kulusevski 85′) – 7 – Got stuck in straight away. Produced what should have been a game-winning cross.

Steven Bergwijn (for Son 90’+1) – n/a – Came on late.

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