It took awhile, but Liverpool and Tottenhams 2-2 draw lived up to the hype Sunday afternoon. The reason? The most dramatic final ten minutes of soccer youre likely to see this season.
During that final period, an intense but underwhelming game mutated into one unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon thanks to some curious referring, a marvelous solo goal and an extremely controversial last-minute penalty kick.
After Spurs Victor Wanyama scored an unstoppable screamer from 30 yards to knot things up at one in the 80th minute more on that later the game was up for grabs. Four minutes later, it looked like it was the London sides for the taking after Harry Kane was awarded a penalty. But there were two very big problems with referee Jon Moss call: 1) Kane was offsides and 2) Liverpools keeper, Loris Karius, hadnt fouled, or even made contact, with the striker. With the chance to put his Spurs on top and score his 100th goal for the club, the forward blew it, firing his shot directly into Karius palms. As they say, ball dont lie.
Perhaps inspired by their near brush with defeat, Liverpool got a second wind and started to bear down on the Tottenham goal. Then, in the 91st minutes, the Reds Mohamed Salah, scorer of a slapstick opener, mazed through four defenders and calmly fired the ball right through a diving Hugo Lloris. The team and all of Anfield erupted, as it looked like theyd clinched the three points that would move them that much closer to qualifying for the Champions League for a second straight season.
But the already crazy game still had one more twist left. And it came in the final minute of stoppage time via the referee. A penalty shout was initially waved off by Mossuntil his insistent flag wavinglinesman convinced him that Liverpools Virgil Van Dijk had hacked down Erik Lamela in the box. The only problem was that replays showed the defender pulled back in an attempt to avoid the forward, who, in addition to being marginally offsides when the play started, made the most of whatever little contact there was. The call gave Kane another chance at No. 100, and this one he converted easily, to earn his team a draw and rescue their own chances of a top-four finish.
The post-game interviews told you everything you needed to know about the game, with Liverpools Jurgen Klopp saying, If I say what I think, Id pay the biggest fine in football, while Spurs Mauricio Pochettino said Moss was right in every single decision. The quotes wont come as a surprise to anyone, but they also highlight just how subjective the sport can be. Just a week after Video Assistant Referees (VAR) technology needlessly slowed an FA Cup match to a crawl and made everyone wonder if it was even necessary, this game was a perfect example of why the technology needs to be figured out. Fans want to see players like Salah and Wanyama decide a game, not a referee like Moss.
Based on the measure of play, a draw wasnt an unfair way for the game to end. After a back and forth first half, Spurs were comfortably on top during the second. But thats not how the game will be remembered. Nor will it be remembered for two goal-of-the-season contenders. Instead, itll be remembered for two calls by Moss. The game was without a doubt great theater, but unless youre a Spurs fan, it probably left you with a sour taste in your mouth.
Victor Wanyama, Liverpool 2-2 Spurs
Wanyamas goal to tie things up was a beauty which is a shame because it will be overshadowed by the games controversy. With the ball rolling towards him ten yards outside the box, the midfielder reared back and made absolutely perfect contact to score what will surely be one of the goals of the season.
Every team in the bottom half of the table
As intense as the competition for the final three Champions League spots may be, it is nothing compared to the fight for safety at the bottom of the table. As of today, there are a measly seven points separating 11th and 20th place. With 12 games left in the season, its entirely possible that we wont have a good idea of whom is safe from relegation until the final week of the season.