LIVERPOOL: Liverpool kept alive their slender hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four as Diogo Jota’s stoppage-time strike ruined Tottenham’s comeback from three goals down in a thrilling 4-3 victory on Sunday.
Jota blasted his dramatic winner just moments after Richarlison had headed Tottenham level in stoppage-time at Anfield.
Curtis Jones put Liverpool ahead and Luis Diaz, starting for the first time since October after an injury-plagued campaign, netted the hosts’ second goal in the opening five minutes at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah’s penalty extended Liverpool’s dominant start before Harry Kane reduced the deficit with his 208th Premier League goal.
The Tottenham striker is level with Wayne Rooney as the Premier League’s joint second highest all-time scorer behind Alan Shearer.
Kane’s strike was followed by late goals from Son Heung-min and Richarlison in an astonishing finale that climaxed with Jota’s winner.
A wild celebration from Jurgen Klopp left the Liverpool manager limping after injuring himself and earned a booking, with Tottenham caretaker boss Ryan Mason furious with the German’s show of emotion in front of the visitors’ bench.
Klopp’s passion play came amid Liverpool’s bid to salvage a disappointing season by qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The Reds still have a mountain to climb to reach the top four as they sit seven points behind fourth placed Manchester United, who have a game in hand.
While Tottenham’s top four hopes are in tatters, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last six games and have won four in a row to climb to fifth place.
Sixth placed Tottenham are without a win in four games and sit nine points adrift of the top four with four matches left.
Mason is Tottenham’s third manager of a turbulent season that featured Antonio Conte leaving by mutual consent before his replacement Cristian Stellini was sacked after last weekend’s 6-1 thrashing at Newcastle.
Remarkably, Tottenham were just as dreadful in the opening stages on Merseyside as they were against Newcastle.
It took Liverpool just three minutes to breach the porous Tottenham defence as Trent Alexander-Arnold curled a superb cross to the far post, where Jones guided a cool finish past Fraser Forster for his first goal since 2021.
Jota to the rescue
Tottenham had conceded five times in the first 21 minutes against Newcastle and they were in disarray again.
With Tottenham’s hapless defence unable to pick up Liverpool’s runners, Colombia winger Diaz doubled the lead in the fifth minute.
Salah’s pass sent Cody Gakpo racing into the area and he pulled a cross back from the byline for Diaz to volley home from close-range.
In the 14th minute, Cristian Romero’s reckless challenge sent Gakpo sprawling, conceding a penalty that Salah fired into the roof of the net.
Just as many did at Newcastle, once again a stream of disillusioned Tottenham fans headed to the exits well before half-time.
At least Kane hadn’t thrown in the towel and he netted in the 40th minute, volleying home from close-range after Ivan Perisic evaded Virgil van Dijk’s lunge to pick out the England captain.
That finally sparked a spell of Tottenham pressure and Son’s curler struck the post just before the interval.
Liverpool have hardly fared much better than Tottenham this season and a plane trailing a banner calling for the Reds’ American owners to sell up flew over Anfield at half-time.
Son’s fierce strike and Romero’s acrobatic volley both hit the post in the space of a minute after the break.
With Liverpool having lost all momentum in the second half, Son tucked a cool finish under Alisson Becker from Romero’s pass in the 77th minute.
When Richarlison headed his first league goal for Tottenham from Son’s free-kick in the second minute of stoppage-time, it seemed the visitors had authored a great escape.
But seconds later Jota pounced with a nerveless finish from an acute angle to send Klopp into a frenzy on the touchline. — AFP