One for the Pantheon
[Liverpool 4 – 3 Spurs].
Anfield has known many dramatic moments in its fabled history, so it takes a truly special game to be added to the pantheon of special games.
We got one today.
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Did anybody think, after the first fifteen minutes, that Liverpool was going to do any less than cruise to a lopsided victory? It wasn’t just the goals, although those were each magnificent in their own way: Jones had a lot of work to do to finish off that run-of-his-mill assist from Trent, for example. Now, please don’t misunderstand me; it was an incredible assist, except that for Trent, it felt routine. Boy, does our 66 know how to place ‘em or what? Still, Jones had only one option that made sure of a goal, and he took it with aplomb, delivering a gorgeous right off-the-air volley pass to the far post that no one could get near. Then Lucho got himself on the score sheet in brilliant fashion, with a world-class volleyed (again) finish off a lovely rapid buildup. Spurs were stunned, and so when Mr. Happy Feet himself, one Cody Gakpo (who is my unexpected man-of-the-match, and is turning out to be a real gem of an acquisition), executed another one of his little dances and got Salah a penalty, it was simply forthcoming. The Egyptian struck it beautifully and confidently into the roof of the net, and it was the perfect way for him to remind all of us that his two recent misses were a real anomaly in his otherwise almost spotless record from the spot.
No, it wasn’t just the goals. It was the manner in which Liverpool dominated Spurs early on. The latter looked sad, even pathetic, as they couldn’t even get near the ball in the first half an hour.
But then they got one out of nowhere, a perfect counter that ended with the most predictable of Kane finishes, and the air seemed to shift ever so slightly. Instead of crushing their miserable opponents, the Reds suddenly looked like they couldn’t wait for half-time. That sense only reinforced itself in the second half, and it was the visitors who could consider themselves unlucky. They struck the post three times in short order before Son, who played chief antagonist, finally broke free and slid one under Alisson.
This created the opportunity for a little Hollywood drama, because one of the most hated players on this side of Stanley Park, was coming on. Hated or not, Richarlison is a world-class poacher, and poach he did two minutes into stoppage time. You can only really understand the genius of that goal when viewing it from behind the net, as he had minimal opportunity to do anything at all, but still somehow thunked it down hard enough to bounce over Alisson and under the bar.
Spurs surely thought that they had pulled a miracle draw out of a bottomless hat, but they forgot that Liverpool has their own world-class poacher. And so, in a fitting finish even deeper into stoppage time, it was Diogo Jota who took back the three points that looked destined to be the home side’s early on. The same Jota who almost got himself red-carded earlier for seriously dangerous play that saw Skipp have to leave the pitch with a bloody head. A less lenient referee might have shown him the path to an early shower but would have then robbed us of this fantastic finish in a game that will be remembered for many years into the future.
Sure, Liverpool isn’t likely to get that fourth spot, although it’s still possible. What this game did, beyond providing two hours of excellent entertainment, is let the Reds lay a much stronger claim to fifth. Klopp hasn’t won the Europa League yet with this team, and that might very well change next year.
In the meantime, I’m off to watch the highlights reels a few more times. What a game, y’all.
What a game.