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    Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Match Report

    Liverpool ended their long wait for a league victory as two first-half goals from Sadio Mane proved the difference for The Reds against a below-par Tottenham Hotspur.

    The Senegal international, making his first home start since returning from the African Cup of Nations, showed what Liverpool had been missing during his absence when he gave his side a 2-0 lead after 18 minutes.

    Tottenham never recovered from an error-strewn first-half display but despite an improvement after the break, they rarely looked like threatening a much-improved Liverpool defence.

    Mauricio Pochettino's team missed the chance to reduce Chelsea's lead at the top of the table to six points, while Liverpool's first Premier League win for 42 days meant that they temporarily climbed back into the top-four.

    Liverpool went into the match with only one win from their 10 matches so far in 2017, a 1-0 victory over League Two Plymouth, and hadn't triumphed in the league since a 1-0 win over Manchester City on New Year's Eve.

    Second-place Tottenham, meanwhile, were in sparkling form having won nine and drawn two of their last 11 matches and possessed two of the Premier League's most in-form players in Harry Kane and Dele Alli.

    Both sides had to cope with defensive reinforcements with Lucas Leiva deputising in the absence of Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan, while Eric Dier and Ben Davies were covering for the injured Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose for Spurs.

    It was Liverpool who set the tone for the match from the outset with a opening 30 minutes that was high on energy and tempo, with Sadio Mane providing an outlet that The Reds were willing to utilise at every opportunity.

    Philippe Coutinho was the recipient of the home side's first opportunity, created from a sweeping counter-attack, but his side-footed effort that was heading for the bottom-corner was blocked by Toby Alderweireld.

    Liverpool's fast and progressive start to proceedings was rewarded after 16 minutes when Sadio Mane gave his side the lead with the first goal since his return from representing Senegal on international duty.

    The 24-year-old, who was played in by Georginio Wijnaldum's defence-splitting pass, had the pace to hold off the retreating Ben Davies before finishing past Hugo Lloris from 10 yards in clinical fashion.

    Spurs were unable to live with Mane's speed and athleticism in the opening half-an-hour although his second goal, two minutes later, owed much to his persistence in pressing the Tottenham back-four into making errors.

    Having dispossessed Eric Dier, the former Southampton winger created a chance for Adam Lallana, which was saved by Lloris, while the Frenchman also saved a follow-up effort from Roberto Firmino.

    There was nothing that the Spurs stopper could do to prevent Mane from rifling the rebound into the roof of the net from four yards, however, to give Liverpool a two-goal and potentially unassailable lead after only 18 minutes.

    Two further chances came Mane's way in the subsequent few minutes as Spurs continued to make matters difficult for themselves with misplaced balls out of defence and erratic clearances.

    Kyle Walker's misdirected pass turned into a hat-trick opportunity for the double-goalscorer but having shaken off the challenge of Ben Davies with blistering pace, his effort was deflected into the side-netting off the legs of Lloris.

    From the subsequent corner, Mane was denied a third goal once again when his arrowed strike was palmed away at full-stretch by Lloris as it headed towards the top-corner.

    Spurs produced their most dangerous passage of play as the half-hour mark approached but neither Son Heung-min or Dele Alli were able to find the finishing touches to two excellent chances created by Ben Davies.

    Son, set-up by the full-back's defence-splitting pass, was denied by the legs of Mignolet from close-range, while Alli's looping header back across goal was headed over his own crossbar by the backtracking Lucas.

    The home side continued to press for a third goal prior to half-time as Coutinho threatened from a breakaway but his drilled effort from 12 yards lacked the pace to trouble a grateful Lloris in the Spurs goal.

    Tottenham tightened up at the back after the break, while Liverpool adopted a more cautious approach with an emphasis on protecting the lead that they had worked so hard to achieve in the first-half.

    Chances were at a premium as the intensity of the game decreased, although Joel Matip might have done better when he was found by James Milner's inswinging free-kick but his header lacked the power to trouble Lloris.

    Phillipe Coutinho also found himself in a dangerous position on the edge of the Spurs penalty area but, with Lloris flat-footed in the Spurs goal, he dragged his strike three yards wide.

    Liverpool nearly profited from a comedy of errors late on when Alderweireld's clearance fell straight to Wijnaldum, before Davies nearly headed the Dutchman's off-target effort past an unsuspecting Lloris.

    Jurgen Klopp's side managed to see out the final few minutes and, in doing so, kept a first clean sheet in the league since December 31 and recorded a first victory of the year at the sixth attempt.

    It was a much-improved display by the home team, full of energy and aggression, and resembled early-season performances against the likes of Arsenal, Hull and Watford that had made the club joint-favourites to win the league back in November.

    The title may be a step too far following The Reds' poor start to the year but the win at least gets the club's Champions League hopes back on track with 13 games of the season still remaining.

    Liverpool's victory briefly propelled the club into fourth position but Manchester City's win at Bournemouth on Monday night sent the Sky Blues into second-place and left Klopp's team a point outside the top-four.

    It was a familiar story for Spurs against a top-four rival away from home, while the club's wretched record against Liverpool at Anfield continues for another season.

    Pochettino's side never recovered from the home side's fast start and lacked the cutting edge in the final third of the field that the likes of Harry Kane and Dele Alli have provided so frequently in recent weeks.

    Spurs ended the weekend in third position, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea who stretched their advantage over the North-Londoners courtesy of a hard-earned point against Burnley at Tuft Moor on Sunday.

    Liverpool return to action on February 27, when the club travel to champions Leicester City in the Premier League, while Spurs start their Europa League campaign on Thursday night against Belgian club K.A.A. Gent.
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    Item Reviewed: Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham Match Report Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Tufft
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