Just after the quarter hour, Mane put Liverpool ahead when Spurs’ defence got caught out by Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass
It would get better for Mane and Liverpool just minutes later as he doubled their lead with a firm finish from close range
The fast start was just what the home side needed as they looked for a response to their slump in form last month
More than a month after Anfield last roared with hope, their team returned on Saturday night in triumph.
On New Year’s Eve they were gearing up for a title challenge here when they beat Manchester City. On Saturday night, you could almost understand why, as an exhilarating Liverpool thrust aside one of the best and most in-form teams in the Premier League with a near-perfect first half display inspired by the exquisite Sadio Mane.
And yet it did rather beg the question where this team had disappeared to in January. Since that heady New Year’s Eve, the collective might of Plymouth, Swansea, Southampton, Wolves and Chelsea have visited Anfield. Not a win had been gleaned and inferior teams have utterly exposed Liverpool at times. And last weekend they were lamentable at Hull. But come the big games, then they seem to have a side worth watching.
Sadio Mane proved his worth to the Liverpool cause as he scored two goals on his return to the starting XI against Tottenham
The Senegalese scored twice in the space of 2:15sec to put the Reds in the ascendancy and restore belief at Anfield
Liverpool Jurgen Klopp was unable to contain himself after Mane’s second, celebrating in typically manic fashion
Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Harry Kane cut dejected figures as they cannot prevent their side’s defeat at Anfield
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet 7.5, Clyne 7, Matip 7, Lucas 7 (Klavan 82), Milner 7, Lallana 8, Henderson 8, Wijnaldum 8, Mane 9 (Alexander-Arnold 90+2), Firmino 7.5, Coutinho 7 (Can 77).
Unused subs: Karius, Sturridge, Moreno, Origi.
Bookings: Matip, Milner, Henderson.
Goals: Mane 16, 18.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-3-2-1): Lloris 6.5, Walker 5, Dier 4, Alderweireld 5.5, Davies 4, Dembele 6 (Sissoko 77), Wanyama 5.5, Eriksen 5 (Winks 68), Alli 5, Son 5, Kane 5.
Unused subs: Janssen, Vorm, Nkoudou, Trippier, Wimmer.
Bookings: Alderweireld, Dier, Son, Kane, Winks.
Man-of-the-Match: Sadio Mane
Referee: Anthony Taylor 6
Team P GD Pts 1 Chelsea 24 34 59 2 Tottenham Hotspur 25 28 50 3 Arsenal 25 26 50 4 Liverpool 25 24 49 5 Manchester City 24 20 49 6 Manchester United 25 17 48 7 Everton 25 13 41 8 West Bromwich Albion 25 3 37 9 Stoke City 25 -6 32 10 West Ham United 25 -9 32 11 Southampton 25 -3 30 12 Watford 25 -13 30 13 Burnley 24 -9 29 14 Bournemouth 24 -12 26 15 Middlesbrough 25 -8 22 16 Leicester City 24 -17 21 17 Swansea City 24 -25 21 18 Hull City 25 -27 20 19 Crystal Palace 25 -14 19 20 Sunderland 25 -22 19
It cannot just be the return on Mane from the African Cup of Nations, though in his first game at Anfield since New Year’s Eve he was quite unplayable and utterly compelling. He scored two but might have had five. Eric Dier and Ben Davies were particularly exposed by him but few Tottenham players were spared. It was a performance that put you in mind of Luis Suarez and there is not much higher praise.
As for Tottenham, this was a huge jolt to any lingering title ambitions. You could visualise Antonio’s broad grin as, on another Saturday off, the chasing pack continued to tear themselves apart and allow the top dog a clear run.
Liverpool in that opening period were simply scintillating. Tottenham started the day with best defensive record in the league; they had only conceded seven goals from open play all season; security at the back is a Mauricio Pochettino trademark.
Liverpool looked like the team that threatened to challenge for the title before Christmas as they snapped out of the blocks
Red skipper Jordan Henderson was in good form in the first half, turning the ball over three times for side
And yet it wasn’t just that they conceded two in two minutes. It was that they looked like conceding every time Liverpool flew forward. Of course, Tottenham were missing Jan Vertonghen and Danny Rose from their regular back four.
But nevertheless, the scale of their disarray was extraordinary. That heady mix of an Anfield evening, the roar of a fully-engaged Kop and a Jurgen Klopp team intent on harrying the life out of any dithering defender is a toxic combination for opponents. At their best, Tottenham can do the same to their opponents. But on Saturday night they were made to suffer.
Liverpool fairly flew into Tottenham and Hugo Lloris’ save from Philippe Coutinho after an exquisite exchange of passes was a maker of what was to come. On 16 minutes Victor Wanyama was robbed in midfield and Georginio Wijnaldum threaded through the most-delightful ball which slit Tottenham’s defence and had Ben Davies chasing Sadio Mane in vain.
Tottenham needed a response but struggled to make an impact as an attacking force, here Christian Eriksen fires at goal
Liverpool just seemed to want it more in front of a fired-up Anfield, here James Milner gets up for a header over Eriksen
The Senegalese striker simply raced away and Tottenham were utterly exposed. Despite Lloris bearing down, he managed to finish and Anfield sensed superiority.
Barely had Tottenham had time to absorb that shock then they pressed into another mistake. This time it was Eric Dier who was robbed on the ball by Mane, who flew away and squared for Lallana,whose shot was parried by Lloris. It fell only to Robrto Firmino who forced another svae from Lloris only for the ball to sit up for Mane to volley home.
Now it fet like open season, almost Llloris against the rest, though mainly Mane, who struck the side netting and then had another striker tipped over by the Frenchman. Tottenham had been overwhelmed and Mane was simply outstanding.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was left stunned by the lacklustre display from his side in the first half
Liverpool looked a threat whenever they got forward, here Roberto Fimino gets crowded out by three Spurs players
There is always a vulnerability at the heart of Liverpool, Heung Min-Son found himself clear and Simon Mignolet saved well
There is always a vulnerability at the heart of Liverpool, however. Heung Min-Son found himself clear on 26 minutes and Simon Mignolet saved well. But Lloris was again called into action on 31 minutes to save from Coutinho. Tottenham though had recovered a degree of composure from the mauling they had received in the first twenty minutes and were at least establishing a foothold back in the game.
Tottenham couldn’t be expected to be so compliant after the interval. The first-half chaos had been so uncharacteristic that is seemed unlikely to prevail.
They had to endure the Kop’s excited claims for a penalty when Lallana shot into the arm of Dele Alli om 49 minutes. But ultimately they had expect a reaction and Tottenam were more robust. Somuch so, that challenges begun to fly in with even less caution than previously, from both sides. In a twenty minute spell Jordan Henderson, Joel Matip, James Milner. Song, Harry Kane and Harry Winks were all booked. Eric Dier and Toby Alderweirled were later added also for fouls.
Tottenham’s Victor Wanyama exhanges words with Adam Lallana as the away side become increasingly frustrated at Anfield
Eriksen had a golden opportunity to pull Tottenham back into the game bit could not find the target with his free-kick
Philippe Coutinho took an unusual approach to wall duties as he knelt behind the first line of defenders for Eriksen’s set-piece
After the break the game became more stretched and a few tasty challenges, such as this from Joel Matip, came flying in
Coutinho places the ball as he prepares to take a corner for Liverpool as the home side tried to build on their 2-0 lead
The game became increasingly scrappy as it wore on with fouls and yellow cards being dished out to both sides
Tottenham did manage something other than a physical response when Christian Erikson floated in a free kick on which Kane manage to direct against the post. The offside flag had been raised but it was an indication of Tottenham’s determination to engage with the battle.
Nevertheless, the flow of traffic was still predominantly towards Lloris’ goal. Matip headed just wide on 71 minutes and Lallana then fed Coutinho on 74 minutes and the Brazilian shot just wide through the legs of Alderweireld.
For Tottenham, there was always hope. They had been outplayed at Manchester City and still grabbed a draw at the end. Doubtless they had similar thoughts. But they struggled for genuine goal-scoring opportunities and Liverpool seemed a different proposition to the side which has seemed so fragile throughout January.
Son was working hard for Spurs going forward but often found his path blocked by a dogged Lucas Leiva for Liverpool
Coutinho fires at goal as he looks to break his goal drought but by this point the game was long won by the Reds
Liverpool battled to the end and Spurs couldn’t find a way to create any goal threat; here, Henderson gets across Son