Match of the Day 2 analysis

Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham will make the headlines for its crazy ending and controversial decisions, but it was a brilliant tactical battle too.

Referee Jon Moss and his assistant Eddie Smart had two big calls to make with the two penalties they gave Mauricio Pochettino’s side – and they got one of them wrong.

But Spurs’ second-half performance was the kind of display their fans have been waiting for them to produce away from home against another top-six side and there was no way they deserved to leave Anfield empty-handed.

The way Tottenham dominated the second half made me feel they deserved to win it but, when you look at the game as a whole, a draw was a fair result from an unbelievable match.

Harry Kane

Harry Kane claimed his 100th Premier League goal from the penalty spot to earn Tottenham a point in the 95th minute

First half – Liverpool in control

Spurs were the better side on the ball in the first half but never looked like breaking Liverpool down, and I never thought for a second that they were going to score.

That was because of the way Liverpool denied Spurs space when they came forward, and looked to hit them on the counter-attack.

We are used to seeing Jurgen Klopp’s side press the opposition high up the pitch, like they did in their win over Manchester City last month, and look to win the ball as near to goal as possible so they do not have far to go to score.

Therefore it was weird to see Liverpool drop as deep as they did on Sunday, including Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, who were so deep on the left and right that at times they were almost doing the jobs of their full-backs, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Liverpool XI v Tottenham

On paper, Liverpool were a 4-3-3 but they were often almost like a 4-5-1 with Roberto Firmino the player up front on his own.

Tottenham found it difficult to break them down because there was no room on the flanks and Liverpool’s three central midfielders were getting close to Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier as well and denying them any time on the ball.

Even when Spurs got through that, Liverpool were keeping things so tight between their back four and midfield that there was no space for Song Heung-Min, Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli to operate in.

What changed? Liverpool ran out of steam

Things were very different in the second half. Tottenham began to take charge of the game after the break and the main reason for that was down to Liverpool running out of energy.

They had put so much into the first half that it was inevitable it would catch up with them, so it was all about patience for Spurs.

Tottenham XI v Liverpool

I can understand why Liverpool ran out of steam – Jordan Henderson was starting his first game for six weeks and James Milner has been in and out of the team in recent weeks too. Emre Can was probably the fittest of the three in that central midfield area but he seemed to tire a little bit towards the end too.

The Liverpool defence might just have dropped off a little bit or the midfield might have been going a little bit too high, but it meant there were gaps appearing.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino did not seem to change too much tactically but, all of a sudden, Alli was able to get on the ball behind the Liverpool midfield rather than in front of them like in the first half.

Tottenham’s first penalty? The wrong decision

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Pochettino praises ‘fantastic’ penalty decisions

Players like Alli only need another yard of space to do some damage, which we saw when he played the pass that led to the first Tottenham penalty – although as far as I am concerned it was the wrong decision by the officials because Harry Kane was offside.

According to the Football Association, the law is that a player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball is not considered to have gained an advantage.

It is farcical to apply that law to this incident, though. When I saw Dele pass that ball aiming it towards Kane, the fact is Kane is offside at that point and the flag should go up.

Kane is offside at the moment that Alli plays the pass to him, so for me it is irrelevant that it ricochets off Dejan Lovren on its way through to him because Lovren does not play a deliberate pass.

It is completely different to a situation like Liverpool’s opening goal where Mohamed Salah can be offside but it does not matter because Spurs midfielder Eric Dier passes it to him.

Referee Jon Moss (left) and assistant Eddie Smart

Referee Jon Moss (left) and his assistant Eddie Smart conferred before awarding both Tottenham penalties

We all heard the conversation that Moss and Smart had about the penalty because the pitch-side microphones picked it up, and we showed it using subtitles on Match of the Day 2.

Smart asks him if he thinks Lovren touched the ball, and Moss didn’t know, so he could not go back on his decision at that point.

What made it more unfortunate was that it was all captured on camera and we also had the ability to listen to the whole conversation.

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MOTD2: ‘Get VAR in’ – Lawrenson

Tottenham’s second penalty? Smart gets this one right

As for Tottenham’s second spot-kick, Erik Lamela 100% bought that penalty from Virgil van Dijk but it was still the correct decision.

Lamela is clever because he knows the space that the defender will need to swing his leg. He plants himself there between Van Dijk and the ball and goes ‘hit me and I am going over’.

Van Dijk is unfortunate because he has only got his eyes on the ball as he looks to clear his lines, but it is still a foul, even if it is in the final seconds of the game.

Smart was very brave to give it, but he was right and Lamela did nothing wrong.

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Klopp ‘doesn’t understand’ Spurs penalty decisions

If defenders and goalkeepers are clumsy enough to give attackers the opportunity to use them like that, then players will go over. It is as simple as that.

We saw an incident on Saturday when West Brom’s Oliver Burke went flying through on goal and Southampton defender Jack Stephens comes sliding in and took him out at his ankle.

Burke lost control of the ball but he stayed on his feet, and the referee Michael Oliver did not give a penalty.

Until referees start calling those incidents as penalties, players are going to keep throwing themselves to the floor just to make sure they get them – Kane did the same thing with goalkeeper Lorius Karius’ challenge for the first penalty.

Kane joins 100 club – at the second attempt

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Kane ‘thankful’ for second penalty chance for 100th goal

Kane saw his first penalty saved by Karius but I would not say he made a hash of it.

In terms of the execution of what he wanted to do, he did it to perfection.

When you hit a penalty down the middle, it is as technical as trying to whip one into the corner – you are aiming for the dead centre of the goal because if it is too low then the keeper’s trailing legs might stop it and if it is too high then it might go over.

So Karius deserves credit for deciding to stand still, and you might see more keepers doing it when they face Kane spot-kicks.

I listened to Karius’ interview afterwards and he said he did his research and knew that Kane liked to go down the middle in the bigger games.

Those mind games are all part of being a penalty taker and the fact Kane stuck away his second spot-kick a few minutes later spoke volumes about the kind of character he is.

Only Alan Shearer has scored 100 Premier League goals in fewer games than Harry Kane

Only Alan Shearer has scored 100 Premier League goals in fewer games than Harry Kane

Knowing him, he would not have hesitated about where he was going to put that penalty, but also that there was no chance he would have let anyone else take it instead.

It also says a lot that none of his team-mates even tried to suggest that they should take it, even though I don’t think he was having the greatest of games.

A statement of intent by Spurs?

Kane’s 100th Premier League goal was an important one because it secured a point for Spurs, but they can take plenty of other positives away too.

Their first-half performance at Anfield was not terrible by any means – it was better than what we have seen from them in their defeats at Old Trafford and Etihad Stadium this season.

top of the Premier League table snapshot: Man City 1st, Man Utd in 2nd, Liverpool 3rd, Chelsea 4th, Tottenham in 5th and Arsenal 6th

But what was disappointing was their plodding tempo and lack of any clinical edge whatsoever.

So it was nice to see them dominate another top side on the road in the second half and do it with the impetus and injection of pace they brought into their game.

It was even more impressive when you consider how tricky it is to go hunting for a goal against a Liverpool side who are so strong on the counter-attack with the pace of Salah and Mane.

Salah still scored a world-class goal in the second half of course, but otherwise Spurs centre-half Jan Vertonghen was absolutely sensational.

Mohamed Salah ran through the Tottenham defence to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead in the 91st minute

Mohamed Salah ran through the Tottenham defence to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead in the 91st minute

And when you talk about special goals, Victor Wanyama’s strike for Tottenham’s first equaliser is as good as it gets. With the contact he makes with it and the way the flight of the ball starts outside the posts, it was just unstoppable.

Tottenham’s performance came off the back of another tough game in midweek against Manchester United, and demonstrated how strong they are at the moment.

They have gone from beating United to putting in a brilliant second-half performance at Anfield and getting something to show for it as well.

Now Pochettino and his players have to prepare for playing a north London derby at Wembley on Saturday, but the way they are playing tells me they are ready for Arsenal too.

Jermaine Jenas was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

News Reporter

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