Football Features

“Bobby Dazzler to the rescue!” – Five things learned as Liverpool leave it late to beat Spurs with fabulous Firmino header

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:39, 16 December 2020

In an intense night of football, Liverpool beat Spurs 2-1 at Anfield with a last minute miracle.

The 90th minute strike sent the Reds three points clear at the top of the table and will give them so much confidence. What did we learn?

1. Bobby Dazzler to the rescue!

A goal as blinding as his teeth!

A goal fit to win any game!

A goal that brightened the mood on Merseyside!

Roberto Firmino has been a hysterical mess as a striker lately. Usurped from Liverpool’s best front three by Diogo Jota, his contributions to overall play becoming a punchline rather than something to be lauded, and all because he’s just not been deadly enough in front of goal.

Today Firmino had a game-high 5 shots against Spurs but you never felt like he would score, or even that Liverpool would score (their only goal came off a huge deflection). Except then finally, at the end of the game, he met Andrew Robertson’s beautiful corner with an equally stunning header planted into the back of the net. What a rescue act!

2. Mourinho almost plays it perfectly

José Mourinho was so close to leaving Anfield having gotten almost exactly what he came for. For the vast majority of the match Spurs came to the home of the defending Premier League champions, hustled and harried them, had the best scoring opportunities and left with a draw.

Until the last minute goal from Roberto Firmino, that is.

The Portuguese coach has always lived by the adage that drawing away to your biggest rivals is just fine, focusing on beating smaller sides instead of looking for giant scalps. So his side sit deep, and his side play on the break. And for tonight that was working.

But here’s the thing: Spurs missed three glorious chances to take the lead and when you have misses like that, it gives the opposition confidence, and Liverpool with confidence can be terrifying. Mourinho’s fatal misstep however, was when he took Heung-min Son off for Dele Alli. The Korean’s pace and movement clearly worried the Reds, while Dele just didn’t carry the same level of threat.

That sub, coupled with the big misses, gave Liverpool the initiative they needed to push on and pick up the big win. “We came here to win,” said Mourinho, but the overly defensive approach and Son-Dele sub did not give off that vibe.

3. Salah supreme but he can’t do it alone

No one has scored more Premier League goals this season than Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian striker came into this game with 10 goals and found his 11th when a first-half shot ballooned in off an Eric Dier deflection.

It was a sloppy goal but a fair reward for a night of football where the Egyptian fizzled and crackled with life and energy. Salah had an impressive 4 shots, hitting the target every time he let fly, and every time he had the ball you could sense the fear in the Spurs ranks.

You couldn’t say that about any other Liverpool forward. In fact this has kind of been the case all season. Salah has 11 goals, yes, but Liverpool’s next top scorer is Diogo Jota on 5. Sadio Mané has 4 and after him it’s Roberto Firmino on 3 (with the third coming tonight).

The Reds got away with it tonight, as Firmino did show up at the death, but how many times will that happen? Liverpool can’t keep banking on miracle goals; their other forwards will have to start scoring more regularly if they want to sustain this title challenge. 

18+ only. UK residents only. All winnings are credited in cash and can be withdrawn. Deposit £20 to £100 to receive free bets matching deposit. Free bets credited as four equal free bets. The qualifying bet must have odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater. The qualifying period runs for 7 days from the date of registration. Standard BetBull General Promotions Rules Apply. Standard BetBull Terms & Conditions Apply. BeGambleAware.

4. Spurs’ missing killer instinct?

You never want to accuse a team of lacking killer instinct, especially a team like Spurs who have scored so many goals this season and have the joint-top goalscorer in the league (Son with 11) and the top assist man (Kane with 10), but goodness Spurs looked lacking today.

Not in defence. There they were great. Nor even in midfield where they worked hard. Hell, they were even good in attack where their movement repeatedly caught Liverpool out and caused havoc. But at the crucial moment, when the finish was there to be made, they fell short. They fell way short.

Steven Bergwijn had a couple of absolutely outrageous misses in the second-half after bamboozling the Reds backline. His shooting was just hideously wayward and let Liverpool off the hook. And then as if to top it all, Harry Kane missed a point-blank header from about 6 yards out. This was an absolute gimmie and Kane passed up on it.

José Mourinho said that his Spurs were the best side, and maybe they were, but that lack of killer instinct means you can’t feel too bad for them with their defeat. They had their chances to win, and they missed them!

5. Fabinho the deliriously good deputy

Rhys Williams had a great game against Spurs. The youngster had a team-high 2 clearances and always looked so assured. However the main reason he was able to play so well at the heart of defence was because of the man next to him, leader of the Liverpool defence. A towering centre-back as cool and confident as you could ever want a centre-back to be.

Fabinho.

Liverpool panicked when Virgil van Dijk got injured, and for sure you’ll always miss a world-class defender like the Dutchman, but Fabinho has constantly proven himself a more than capable deputy, never moreso than tonight under the microscope of having to defend the most ferocious counter-attacking team in the country.

The Brazilian was powerful, he was phenomenal. And with him as a calming presence, even young Rhys Williams can play games of this stature and shine. Fabinho will have to keep on playing this well for a while because he will remain Liverpool’s most important defender while Van Dijk is out injured. A colossal, statuesque and deliriously good deputy.