No Kane blame. Pochettino refuses to criticise his players for poor display against dominant Liverpool
18 September, 2018
FA Premier League
SPURS 1 (Lamela 90+3)
LIVERPOOL 2 (WIjnaldum 39, Firmino 54)
IT was another frustrating day for Harry Kane, as his Spurs side surrendered easily to league leaders Liverpool.
The Tottenham and England talisman failed to make any impression, as the visitors effortlessly made it five wins out of five in the Premier League.
Despite the close-run scoreline (only aided by an injury time effort by substitute Erik Lamela) , this was a day to forget for Kane and Spurs, who were never really in the game.
After the match, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino said he wouldn’t ‘point the finger at any single player.
“Harry is a quality player’, said the Spurs coach, when asked about Kane’s apparent drop in form.
“I think our performance today wasn’t great, admitted Pochettino.
“We still need to improve a lot if we are going to win the title, but there is a thin line between winning and losing.”
Spurs were shorn of two key players in Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli, through injury, though Pochettino did give a first start of the season to England’s potential ‘Iniesta’ in Harry Winks.
Liverpool dominated from the kick off: The Reds had the ball in the back of the net within a minute of the start, but Sadio Mane was adjudged to be offside.
Most of the game was frantic and scrappy, with misplaced passes spilling out all over the beize green Wembley pitch.
In the 23rd minute, an ill-judged back pass from Eric Dier, was seized upon by dangerman Mohamed Sarah, but Michel Vorm – in for the injured Lloris – saved easily.
But in the 39th minute, Vorm’s feeble attempt at a clearance punch, led to Liverpool finally taking the lead. Georginio Wjinaldum’s return header dropped under the crossbar and over the line. It was no more than the visitors deserved.
Vorm kept out a Mane effort at the start of the second half, as Liverpool quickly pressed for a second.
Almost immediately at the other end, Spurs’ stand-out player, by far – Lucas Moura – charged through on goal before meekly dragging his shot onto the left-hand post of the Liverpool goal.
The Reds never needed to step up a gear, but they got their second on 54 minutes. Mane’s close-range cross was deflected onto the post by Jan Vertonghen, but Roberto Firminio easily tapped in the rebound from close-range.
“Change it Poch’ came the moans from some in the home crowd, and at least he did – bringing on Erik Lamela for Mousa Dembele, on the hour mark.
Harry Winks, who had struggled to adapt to the pace of the game, was replaced by Heung-Min Son: The South Korean striker had just returned from leading his country to Asian Games glory.
Substitute Lamela issued a rallying cry from those Spurs fans who hadn’t already left, when he finished smartly from close range in injury time. Spurs laid siege – finally – to the Liverpool goal. But it proved too little, too late.
Pochettino claimed Spurs should have had a penalty when Son was bundled over after the Lamela goal, but referee Michael Oliver, wasn’t having any of it.
“We should have had a penalty’, said a frustrated Pochettino.
But the Argentine will be the first to admit, his Tottenham side were second best in all departments.
Spurs: Vorm; Trippier, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose; Winks (Son 73), Dier (Wanyama 82), Dembele (Lamela 61); Eriksen; Moura, Kane
Subs not used: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Aurier, Davies
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold (Matip 90), Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Wijnaldum, Keita (Sturridge 82); Salah, Firmino (Henderson 73), Mane
Subs not used: Mignolet, Fabinho, Moreno, Shaquiri