LONDON (Reuters) – For all their attacking flair, Liverpool showed again on Sunday they have the ability to dig deep and grind out vital victories when things do not go to plan as they recovered from an early setback to beat Tottenham Hotspur.
With their Premier League lead having been cut to three points on Saturday by Manchester City, there were a few worried looks on the Kop when Tottenham’s Harry Kane opened the scoring inside a minute at Anfield.
But Liverpool never panicked, trusted the system and gradually turned the screw.
Second-half goals by captain Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah from the penalty spot ensured Liverpool won 2-1, continuing their stunning start and fuelling belief that this could finally be the season they end their long wait for a first English title since 1990.
Manager Juergen Klopp praised his side’s response to going behind so early against a team that, while not winning, have caused problems at Anfield in recent seasons.
“I told the boys at halftime, the only problem in this game so far is the result — apart from that, it’s good,” Klopp said.
“We didn’t chase it, we just played it. Very often in football the result is the result of the performance and today it worked out. The performance was really super — really, really good. I liked it a lot.
“In a difficult game, being 1-0 down against Tottenham with the strength they have in counter-attack is really tough, so the boys deserve a lot of credit for that today.”
It was the second week running Liverpool had trailed. Last week they salvaged a 1-1 draw at Manchester United and it is that resilience that has become a hallmark of Klopp’s side.
In the last 10 home Premier League games in which they have conceded the first goal, Liverpool have won seven and drawn three.
Henderson, who epitomises Liverpool’s mentality, said the key is the determination of his Liverpool team mates to keep improving.
“For us it’s all about the next game. That’s our focus,” Henderson said. “The reaction was fantastic from the lads and we deserved the three points.
“We are very critical of ourselves and always want to do better. The good thing is we keep winning games. There are still things we can improve on.”
Klopp played down injury worries over Salah, who was substituted late on, and Virgil van Dijk who took a knock.
“Virgil had a dead leg and Mo, it’s the ankle, the ankle he has struggled with since the Leicester game,” he said.
“It’s good, but the longer the game goes the muscles get a bit tired, stuff like this. But no, nothing serious.”
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has seen his side fall into the bottom half of the table and his record against Liverpool since he took over in 2014 is one win in 16.
“I think we competed today, but maybe scoring so early we were just trying to defend,” Pochettino, whose side are now 16 points behind Liverpool after 10 games, said.
“In this season we deserve more points on the table. It’s a moment to stay strong, to keep pushing.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)