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Tottenham 2-2 Liverpool: 5 talking points as 10-men Reds held on frustrating night

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Andy Robertson picked up a goal, an assist and a red card as Liverpool gave up ground in the Premier League title race thanks to a pulsating 2-2 draw with Tottenham.The Reds dominated the opening stages in north London but found themselves trailing as Harry Kane scored his second top-flight goal of the season in the 13th minute.The England captain soon avoided a red card for a lunge on Robertson before the visitors hit back through Diogo Jota’s header.

Jurgen Klopp went for the jugular in the second half and his attacking change of formation was rewarded as Robertson nodded in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.

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However, Liverpool’s joy was short-lived as Son Heung-min punished an error from Alisson, who was otherwise brilliant, to level for the hosts.

Things went from bad to worse for the Reds when Robertson was sent off for a reckless challenge on Emerson Royal following a review of the pitchside monitor.

The visitors managed to see out the remaining 13 minutes plus added time, but the result means they drop crucial points and sit three behind league-leaders Manchester City. Spurs, meanwhile, are seventh with many games in hand due to their recent coronavirus outbreak.

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Here are five talking points from a riveting affair at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

  1. Spurs and Kane brush off cobwebs

Tottenham came into this match having missed three games across a coronavirus-riddled fortnight which disrupted Antonio Conte’s plans and left them with the daunting prospect of fixture pile-up later in the season.

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They looked every bit a team lacking sharpness in the opening 10 minutes against Liverpool, during which the visitors dominated possession and arguably should have taken the lead via Andy Robertson’s head.

But Spurs’ talismanic striker changed the complexion of the match by hitting form at long last when his team needed it most.

Harry Kane collected Tanguy Ndombele’s through-ball and rolled the ball into the bottom corner to put Tottenham ahead on 13 minutes, marking just his second Premier League goal of the season.

The goal injected confidence into Conte’s side and they should have doubled their lead just five minutes after the opener, but Son Heung-min showed too much of the ball to Alisson and the ball was snatched from his feet after he was played in by Kane.

The Brazilian goalkeeper was Liverpool’s hero once again on the half-hour mark as he made a fingertip save to deny Dele Alli after he was threaded through one-on-one by a marvellous piece of Son creativity.

  1. Liverpool suffer from midfield absences

With Thiago and Jordan Henderson joining Fabinho on the sidelines through coronavirus and an unspecified injury respectively, Tyler Morton was called on to make his full Premier League debut as the lynchpin of the Liverpool midfield.

It was the 19-year-old’s sixth senior appearance after impressive 90-minute displays against Porto and AC Milan in the Champions League group stage.

Morton undoubtedly impressed on the European stage but the prospect of trying to contain Harry Kane and Son Heung-min is a different task entirely and, understandably, the teenager struggled to give the centre-backs the cover Fabinho or Henderson provide.

Liverpool were fortunate Alisson’s reflexes were at their best after numerous instances in the first half when Son and Kane had a two-on-two with Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip.

Morton had to be careful after he was booked for a cynical tackle on Harry Winks, while midfield colleague James Milner also seemed to be lacking match sharpness and was guilty of misplacing simple passes earlier on.

The pick of Liverpool’s midfielders was Naby Keita, who constantly drove forward from the middle third and skipped away from Dele Alli with sublime footwork numerous times.

The Guinean also impressed without the ball and produced a brilliant diving tackle to deny Son a shooting opportunity early in the first half.

  1. Familiar duo pulling the strings

There was no clean sheet this time but Liverpool’s brilliant full-backs were at the centre of everything for the visitors on Sunday evening.

With midfield maestro Thiago ruled out, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were tasked with even more creative duties than usual against Tottenham.

The pair started as they meant to go on and almost combined for the opening goal just one minute into the match as Robertson nodded the Englishman’s cross just wide of Hugo Lloris’ post.

Their delivery from wide areas was truly superb throughout the match and Robertson was rewarded in 35th minute as his simple cross from the left of the area was powerfully headed in by Diogo Jota.

The Scotland skipper added to his assist with a well-taken header from Alexander-Arnold’s whipped cross to put Liverpool ahead in the 69th minute, but his evening would soon take a sour turn.

  1. Tierney in the spotlight

Harry Kane may have opened the scoring, but he was soon in the spotlight for the wrong reasons after a studs-up challenge on Andy Robertson which left Jurgen Klopp fuming on the touchline.

Referee Paul Tierney dealt the England captain a yellow card for the tackle and replays suggest he may have been fortunate not to receive greater punishment.

Klopp’s rage intensified later in the first half after Emerson Royal went unpunished for what appeared to be shove on Diogo Jota in the area, with VAR choosing not to overturn the original decision.

There was a similar incident in the 69th minute as Trent Alexander-Arnold Dele Alli was bundled over in the Liverpool penalty area and the penalty claims were once again waved away.

The Liverpool manager received a yellow card for his protests and was later seen having an animated discussion with Tierney in the tunnel as both teams emerged from the interval.

Many other bookings were dished out during a riveting, ill-tempered match with no semblance of festive cheer, and the most-controversial was no doubt Robertson’s red card in the closing stages.

The Reds left-back initially received a yellow card for crunching into Emerson but Tierney chose to upgrade this to a red after consulting the pitchside monitor.

It is a decision which is sure to be talked about in the days to come, especially as Kane avoided the same punishment in the first half.

  1. Alisson falls foul of Reds’ all-out attack

Knowing that a draw is of little use in a fiercely-competitive title race, Jurgen Klopp made an attacking change on the hour mark with the two teams still level at 1-1.

The Liverpool manager withdrew Tyler Morton and sent on Roberto Firmino, motioning to James Milner that he wanted two central midfielders as he did so.

This gave the Reds an aggressive 4-2-4 formation for the final half-hour and Klopp’s decision appeared top be an inspired one as Robertson nodded his side into the lead.

However, the forward-thinking change left Liverpool even more vulnerable at the back due to the lack of an extra midfielder.

Alisson was quickly off his line to smother the danger of through-balls throughout the match but he was left exposed on too many times as the closing stages unfolded. The 29-year-old was unable to deny Spurs an equaliser, misjudging Ben Davies’ pass and to allow Son to skip past him and draw Tottenham level.

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