Mario Balotelli ends goal drought to sink Spurs
Mario Balotelli scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool as the Italian’s late strike secured a 3-2 win over Tottenham on Tuesday that boosted their hopes of a top-four finish.
Brendan Rodgers’ side had twice led through Lazar Markovic and a Steven Gerrard penalty only to be pegged back by goals from Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele in a thrilling encounter at Anfield.
Balotelli, who hadn’t scored a league goal since arriving from AC Milan in August, came off the bench to deliver the decisive blow with seven minutes left when he tapped home to secure a vital success against one of Liverpool’s rivals for a Champions League spot.
With Raheem Sterling out with a foot injury, Rodgers gave his place to fit-again England striker Daniel Sturridge, who made his first start since August. Jordon Ibe, Gerrard and Markovic were also in Rodgers’ starting line-up while Tottenham were unchanged from the side which beat Arsenal in the north London derby. Sturridge seized on a weak back pass from Ryan Mason early on and broke clear into the box, but his finish was not quite as sharp and Hugo Lloris gathered comfortably.
In the 15th minute, a long high ball controlled by Sturridge found its way to the Serbia international who effortlessly glided to the left edge of the area and saw his low shot, albeit not the most powerful, squirm past the weak hand offered by Spurs goalkeeper. Kane had already showed the kind of confidence currently surging through his veins with a speculative effort from the half-way line. And Kane took his tally in the league to 13 when he finished off a slick passing move from the visitors just before the half-hour mark. That advantage was quickly reasserted when Liverpool were awarded a penalty shortly after the break as Sturridge tumbled under a clumsy challenge from Danny Rose, and Gerrard confidently struck the spot-kick past Lloris.
With seven minutes left on the clock Lallana fired a low cross into the penalty area and there was Balotelli, on hand to tap the ball past Lloris from close range to send crowd into raptures.