Arguably the most thrilling league game of Liverpool’s season ended with the Reds beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 at a rapturous Anfield.
Boss Brendan Rodgers saw his side play some good football at times, not least in the build-up to the goal which gave them the lead—a link-up between Philippe Coutinho and Jose Enrique led to Luis Suarez skilfully finishing past Hugo Lloris.
Two goals either side of half-time from Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen then put the visitors into what was surely a deserved lead, given both their pressure and the fact that the Reds were strangely lacklustre—it took two Tottenham errors for the hosts to eventually turn the contest around.
Kyle Walker’s calamitous backpass—just when Tottenham had threatened to run away with it—allowed Stewart Downing in to level what had become a compelling contest. Another error from Jermain Defoe led to Suarez being bundled over by a clumsy tackle from Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Steven Gerrard duly dispatched a penalty which took Liverpool up to sixth place in the table and damaged Spurs’ Champions League hopes.
Here are six lessons learned from an interesting afternoon at Anfield.
For much of the season, Liverpool have continually been told of just how far they are away from the current Premier League elite, yet here they were toppling one of them.
The pressure that the Reds exerted on Spurs in the second half eventually saw them crumble, revealing that Andre Villas-Boas' team is as vulnerable as any other, regardless of the amount of praise they often deservedly receive.
This could be a wound that Liverpool have opened which the Reds could further damage in the future.
Bale's performances in recent months have quite rightly placed him on the front page of world football's form book, but Liverpool did pretty well against him here.
Outside of set-pieces, the Welshman never really looked like scoring, and although his attempts at influencing the game were clearly apparent—none more so than in the run which ended with Gylfi Sigurdsson hitting the post, a key moment in the game—he ultimately ended up frustrated.
Liverpool won the battle against a man who has the world at his feet.
Did he mean to nutmeg Vertonghen on the line? Almost certainly not, but Downing managed to keep his head for a goal which completely changed the context of the game.
Latching onto Walker’s error, the winger showed admirable composure to fire home a strike which brought Liverpool level and proved to be the key strike of the match.
Following on from his goal at Wigan last week, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to say that this is Downing’s best period in a Liverpool shirt—it also wouldn’t be too outlandish to suggest that he has gone a long way in recent weeks towards earning his place in next season’s squad.
Who’d have thought he’d be doing that a few months ago?
Some of Coutinho’s touches are simply stunning, and the Brazilian once again made a key impact on a Liverpool display which started and ended well.
The more that the former Inter Milan man gets to know both his teammates and the Premier League, the better he looks, but it is telling that Rodgers continues to withdraw him from matches relatively early as he looks to adapt to life in a new country.
He is still very much learning the division, and once Coutinho gets used to it he could well take it by storm.
These ‘lessons learned’ about Liverpool each and every week continue to include mentions of their Uruguayan forward, but there can’t be much more left to discuss about a man who has simply stamped his authority all over this season.
He was brilliant again here—scoring the first goal and helping out with the third. As he closes in on that Premier League Golden Boot, he simply seems to continue to get better.
This was another super show from Suarez.
Just when Everton thought their weekend couldn’t get any worse, they’ve ceded possession of a position they had loved holding all season.
Liverpool are now above the Blues in the league table, and given the fixtures which await the pair of them in the weeks to come, it is a position which the Reds will be fancied to hold on to.
The FA Cup draw means that fifth place is now needed to secure European football next season. Although Arsenal might currently look to be the favourites to secure that spot, their closest challenge could well be coming from the red half of Merseyside, not the blue.