Liverpool beat Tottenham at Anfield to deal blow to Spurs top four hopes

Liverpool beat Tottenham at Anfield

Salah scores as Spurs’ top-four hopes dealt blow

Mohamed Salah finally rediscovered his form – unfortunately too late for Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes – as Tottenham were dispatched in an occasionally slapdash 4-2 victory at Anfield.

A week ago it was all about the Egyptian off the pitch, with his touchline disagreement with Jurgen Klopp spilling over into his incendiary comment in the mixed zone which did little to calm the row.

But, restored to the team, Salah was in the form prior to his January hamstring injury, engaged from the start and scoring the opener to become the club’s record goalscorer against Spurs.

He provided the assists for Andy Robertson and Harvey Elliott to net the second and fourth and gave makeshift left-back Emerson Royal such a torrid time the defender found himself being singled out by team-mate Cristian Romero as they walked off at half-time, with goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario separating the pair.

While Romero was seemingly the only Tottenham defender willing to put his body in the way he was not without fault as he was easily outjumped by Cody Gakpo for Liverpool’s third.

The disorder within the Spurs ranks was only exceeded by the party atmosphere at Anfield on the occasion of Klopp’s penultimate appearance here as manager.

However, although confidence was restored it was all ultimately pointless as third place had already been secured by Aston Villa’s defeat earlier in the day and the celebrations were laced with regret at a missed opportunity in the title race.

Where was this form – of both Salah and the team – against Crystal Palace, Everton and West Ham when the run-in was a critical point?

The irreversible damage was done in the last fortnight of April for Liverpool, who are five points behind leaders Arsenal.

Of course it is easier when the pressure is off but how those fans would love to relish a dash to the line instead of trying to drag out every last moment with their beloved manager.

Tottenham’s season also imploded over the same two weeks and a fourth successive defeat, having conceded 13 goals and scored just four, means they have failed to take advantage of Villa’s slips.

Hopes of Champions League football now look remote as they are seven points adrift of fourth with three matches to play and in greater danger of being caught by Newcastle.

Their record at Anfield – just two wins in the Premier League era and none since 2011 – did not offer much hope but the disorganisation and apparent disinterest within their ranks made their task impossible.

Emerson’s decision to completely ignore Salah, who had already had one shot saved and hit the crossbar and post, was ill-advised as the Egypt international, who started the move on the right wing, ghosted in to head in Gakpo’s deep cross in the 16th minute.

There was barely any celebration from Salah for his 25th of the season, 18th in the league, and ninth in the league goal against Spurs, passing the club record held by Roger Hunt, Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush.

On the stoke of half-time Robertson added the second after he diverted Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the path of Salah, whose side-footed shot was pushed out only as far as the full-back.

Salah’s tame shot at the goalkeeper should have made it 3-0 before Gakpo’s hanging header from Elliott’s cross to the far post did, with Salah then teeing up Elliott for a rasping 25-yarder into the top corner.

But Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet since Nottingham Forest on March 2 and this was the ninth successive time they have conceded as the game took on a typical end-of-season exhibition flavour.

Substitute Richarlison slotted home a near-post shot and then Son scored at Anfield for the fourth consecutive time after the defence completely switched off.

Alexander-Arnold almost lobbed Vicario from inside his own half, Alisson Becker brilliantly denied Richarlison before the chaos was fittingly concluded by Salah having a goal disallowed for offside and substitute Darwin Nunez failing to beat Vicario when clean through.

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