Firmino fires ruthless Liverpool 16 points clear

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah vies for the ball with Tottenham’s Harry Winks during Saturday’s match. (AP)
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Updated 12 January 2020

Firmino fires ruthless Liverpool 16 points clear

  • There is now a 31-point gap between the sides that contested last season’s Champions League final

LONDON: Liverpool continued their relentless march toward a first Premier League title in 30 years as Roberto Firmino’s strike earned a 1-0 win at Tottenham to open up a 16-point lead at the top of the table.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have now made the best ever start to an English top flight campaign after 21 games with 61 points from a possible 63.

There is now a 31-point gap between the sides that contested last season’s Champions League final as Spurs remain in eighth, nine points adrift of even the top four.

However, Tottenham had their chances to take at least a point as Son Heung-min and Giovani Lo Celso missed the target with the goal gaping in the final 15 minutes.

Lo Celso’s miss left Jose Mourinho on his knees in anguish and the honeymoon period for the Tottenham manager is already over after just two wins in their last eight games in all competitions.

Mourinho sprang a huge surprise with his team selection as Japhet Tanganga was handed his Premier League debut in defense.

The 20-year-old was forced into action straight away as he blocked Firmino’s goalbound effort before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain struck the post inside four minutes.

Spurs will be without Harry Kane for most of the remainder of the season after the England captain underwent surgery on a torn hamstring.

Mourinho responded to Kane’s absence by utilizing Lucas Moura and Dele Alli in attack as he sat back and hoped to catch the European champions on the break.

Spurs did have openings which could have changed the course of the game early on as both Lucas and Son fired wide from the edge of the box.

However, it was largely one-way traffic before half-time as Liverpool controlled the game and waited patiently for Spurs’ fragile defense to break.

Tottenham have kept just one clean sheet in 13 games since Mourinho took charge and their luck ran out eight minutes before half-time as Tanganga’s inexperience showed as he tried to intercept Mohamed Salah’s pass into Firmino and the Brazilian fired across Paulo Gazzaniga into the far corner.

Salah could have put the game to bed before the break, but pulled his shot wide.

Mourinho’s men showed more ambition in the second period and should have reaped some reward.

Serge Aurier forced Alisson Becker into action before Son’s deflected shot trickled just wide.

At the other end, Gazzaniga kept the home side in the game with a brilliant save low to his left from Sadio Mane’s downward header.

The Argentine’s heroics nearly proved crucial as firstly Son had a huge chance to level when played in by Lucas, but the South Korean uncharacteristically blasted over the bar.

Liverpool were let off the hook again seven minutes from time when Lo Celso was perfectly picked out by Aurier’s cross and seemed to do everything right as he slid in to connect, only to see the ball fly wide and Mourinho fall to the floor in despair.


English Premier League to restart on June 17

Updated 28 May 2020

English Premier League to restart on June 17

  • No matches have been played since Leicester’s 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9

LONDON: The Premier League season is set to restart on June 17, three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, British media reported on Thursday.

No matches have been played since Leicester's 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9, with Liverpool just two wins away from securing the title.

Top-flight clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to return to contact training and were meeting again on Thursday to discuss issues such as the restart date and the rebate to broadcasters.

Matches would have to be played behind closed doors, much like they have been in Germany's Bundesliga since it restarted earlier in May.

The BBC reported that the first two matches would be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal. Those matches are the two games in hand.

A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of June 19-21.

So far, 12 people have tested positive for coronavirus after 2,752 tests across the Premier League.

La Liga in Spain hopes to return from June 11, while a crucial summit between Italian football officials and the country's sports minister will be held later on Thursday.

Liverpool were 25 points clear of 2019 champions Manchester City when the Premier league was shut down, on the verge of being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in the relegation places.

The BBC will for the first time air free-of-charge Premier League soccer games live when the season restarts next month, the broadcaster said on Thursday.

"This opportunity creates an historic moment for the BBC and our audiences. At a time when sports fans across the country are in need of lift, this is very welcome news," Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, said.