Controversy and Defeat: Liverpool’s Unbeaten Streak Comes to an End
In a game shrouded in controversy, nine-man Liverpool fell to a 2-1 defeat with almost the last kick of the game when Joël Matip put through his own net, meaning their unbeaten start to the league season ground to a halt.
With the incentive of knowing victory would see them end the day top of the table, Liverpool flew out of the traps in North London, and it wasn’t long before they carved out a fantastic opening, but both Cody Gakpo and Andy Robertson saw their efforts repelled by Guglielmo Vicario in the Spurs goal.
Their evening soon soured too, when after initially being awarded a yellow card for a shin-high challenge on Yves Bissouma, Curtis Jones was shown a red card after Simon Hooper consulted the pitchside monitor – a challenge so bad it drew an audible gasp from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium crowd when it was replayed on the big screen.
That didn’t deter the Reds though, who thought they’d opened the scoring when Luis Díaz peeled in behind and arrowed an effort into the bottom corner only for the assistant referee’s flag to cut short his celebrations – a decision that VAR contentiously supported without showing TV viewers the usual offside lines.
Such was Liverpool’s first half luck here, they soon found themselves behind too. Unsurprisingly it was James Maddison who unlocked the door, threading through an inch-perfect ball for ex-Everton man Richarlison to latch onto and square the ball for Heung-min Son to tap home.
Liverpool continued to probe in the face of adversity and found a surprise equaliser before the break, when Virgil van Dijk kept a free-kick alive at the far post and his knockdown was smashed home by Gakpo.
That goal seemed to ignite a fire within Spurs’ bellies and they started the second half firmly on the front foot. Chances rolled in, the best of which fell to Maddison, whose curling effort was impressively stopped by Alisson, before it was Spurs’ turn to be denied by the offside flag when Son’s strike was ruled out for offside.
As if Spurs needed any more ‘come on’ to win the game, they were given in 20 minutes from time when Diogo Jota collected two yellow cards in less than two minutes, forcing Liverpool to finish the game with nine men. The Reds defended valiantly in the wake of that second dismissal, but their hard work was undone in the dying moments when Matip put through his own goal to hand Spurs a victory that moved them to within one point of Manchester City at the PL summit following their earlier slip-up against Wolves.
The cruellest of ends to a day Liverpool will be keen to forget in a hurry.