Liverpool moved clear at the top of the Premier League as a late header from Roberto Firmino saw them beat title rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Anfield.
The home side paid a fine tribute to their former manager, the late great Gerard Houllier ahead of kick off and they reacted by bursting out of the traps.
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In fact, Liverpool completely dominated the first half and deservedly led through Mohamed Salah’s deflected 26th-minute opener.

Liverpool's Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 16, 20

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However, Spurs did put one superb move together and that was all it took to see them go in level at the break. Giovani Lo Celso sprung the Reds offside trap, releasing Son Heung-min to charge clear and fire home his 11th Premier League goal of the campaign.
Liverpool handed a league debut to 19-year-old Rhys Williams in place of the injured Joel Matip, but his big night almost turned sour within seconds of the restart. The young defender’s miscued header fell kindly for Steven Bergwijn but he fired wide of the far post after bursting into the area.
Bergwijn then saw a shot crash back off the post while Sadio Mane clipped the bar at the other end as both sides missed chances to snare the initiative.
The Reds continued to probe and found a way to move three points clear at the summit right at the end when Firmino’s header flew into the top corner.
Tottenham will now look to regroup prior to hosting Leicester on Sunday. Jurgen Klopp’s champions visit Crystal Palace on Saturday.

TALKING POINT

Spurs impress, but Liverpool remain the team to beat. It was fitting that Liverpool found a way to win in their first match since the death of Houllier. They left it late and rode their luck, but once again Klopp’s red machine found a way to get the result in a key clash between the league's top two.

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (L) greets Tottenham Hotspur's Portuguese head coach Jose Mourinho (R) before the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December

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It was very much a game of two halves as the champions completely dominated the first period and were very unfortunate not to be ahead at the interval. In contrast, Spurs showed just how far they have come under Mourinho with an impressive second half. It looked like being a trademark Jose away-display and they will rue missed opportunities to take the lead and seriously threaten what is now Liverpool’s 66-match unbeaten league run on home turf.
There are plenty of positives for Spurs to take from this, but ultimately they have been moved aside at the Premier League summit as the Merseysiders once again demonstrated why they are the team to beat despite their problems this season.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Roberto Firmino (Liverpool). The Brazilian has taken plenty of criticism for failing to score more regularly, but this was a significant contribution right at the death of a showdown between two title rivals. Linked the play well and forced some smart saves out of Hugo Lloris in a lively overall display.

Roberto Firmino - FC Liverpool

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PLAYER RATINGS

LIVERPOOL: Alisson 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Fabinho 8, R Williams 7, Robertson 8, Henderson 7, Wijnaldum 7, Jones 8, Salah 8, Firmino 8, Mane 7.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 8, Aurier 7, Alderweireld 8, Dier 8, Davies 7, Sissoko 7, Hojbjerg 7, Lo Celso 7, Bergwijn 7, Kane 7, Son 7. Subs: Lucas Moura 6, Reguilon 6, Alli n/a.
Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary

KEY MOMENTS

26’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 1-0 Tottenham. Jones threatens on the left side of the box. It breaks for Salah who sees a deflected shot from just inside the area hit Alderweireld and loop into the far corner.
33’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 1-1 Tottenham. Lo Celso bursts from deep and plays a supreme pass through for Son. He charges into the box and rifles a low shot beyond Alisson at his near post.
46’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCE! A big, big opening for Spurs within seconds of the restart. Williams miscues a header, allowing Bergwijn to race into the box. He holds off Alexander Arnold but can only steer wide of the far post.
63’ – TOTTENHAM CHANCES! Bergwijn rampages on to Son's flick-on but flashes his low shot against the far post. Kane gets free from the resulting corner but somehow heads off target.
73’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Mane bewitches Aurier with a stunning turn and then sees his thumping strike skim the bar from the left side of the area.
90’ - GOAL! – Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham. Firmino rises highest to meet a left-wing corner and bullet a header beyond Lloris.

KEY STATS

Salah has been directly involved in six goals in his last seven Premier League meetings with Tottenham (five goals, one assist).
Tottenham completed only 75 passes in the first half, the fewest by a José Mourinho side in a league match since his Real Madrid side completed only 54 in the opening 45 minutes against Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in April 2012
80 percent of Tottenham's Premier League goals in 2020-21 (20/25) have been scored by either Son Heung-min (11) or Harry Kane (9).
Son Heung-Min has scored five goals in his last seven Premier League start vs reigning champions.
Firmino's header was only the third 90th minute winning goal v Jose Mourinho in the Premier League, after Mark Viduka for Middlesbrough in August 2006 and Oussama Assaidi in December 2013 for Stoke City.
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