Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur hold Liverpool in pre-Christmas cracker

ElephantNewsNetwork4个月前Football278
Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur hold Liverpool in pre-Christmas cracker

Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool raised the spirits with a rip-roaring 2-2 draw in a pre-Christmas Premier League classic on Sunday after a weekend marred by COVID-19 related postponements.

A mistake by Liverpool keeper Alisson gifted Tottenham's Son Heung-min a 74th-minute equaliser the hosts fully deserved although the visitors were fuming about some contentious decisions.

Harry Kane ended his two-month league scoring drought to put Tottenham in front after 13 minutes and Antonio Conte's side should have been further ahead before Diogo Jota equalised.

Andy Robertson put Liverpool ahead in the 69th minute as Liverpool looked set to record a ninth successive win in all competitions. But Son pounced to make it 2-2 and the visitors ended with 10 men after Robertson was red-carded for a wild tackle soon afterwards.

Tottenham had not played for a fortnight after having two league games postponed after a COVID outbreak, but produced a vibrant display and wasted numerous gilt-edged chances.

In the end a draw was a fair outcome from a game that illuminated a murky and raw north London afternoon.

The draw left Liverpool three points behind Manchester City, who won earlier in the day, while Tottenham are in seventh spot with 26 points, but with games in hand over the teams immediately above them.

Both sides' starting lineups were impacted by COVID-19 with Tottenham having some regulars fit only for the bench, while Liverpool's Thiago joined Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Curtis Jones on the absent list after being forced to isolate.

The changes affected Liverpool more as their defence was continually breached by the home side's counter-attacks.

While Kane looked more like his old self with a well-taken goal, the England skipper was extremely fortunate not to be sent off for dangerous studs-up tackle on Robertson shortly after.

On an afternoon of several contentious decisions, Liverpool manager Klopp was booked for protesting after Jota was pushed over in the area in the first-half but was not awarded a penalty.

Kane had only scored once in the league this season and that was two months ago, but produced a clinical finish after being played in by Tanguy Ndombele's through ball.

Kane then set up Son who missed from point-blank range while Dele Alli, given a rare league start, looked certain to score but had his shot from Son's pass superbly saved by Alisson.

Son was guilty again when presented with another chance and the misses came back to bite Spurs as Jota met Robertson's clipped cross to head past Hugo Lloris.

The pace was just as fast in the second half with Kane denied by Alisson after being played in by Alli and then heading a close-range reflex header over the bar.

Alli then went down under a challenge from Trent Alexander-Arnold and with Spurs still claiming a penalty, Liverpool went down the other end and took the lead with Alexander-Arnold crossing for Robertson to head in.

Tottenham levelled, however, when a through pass by Harry Winks should have been claimed by Alisson, but the Brazilian spilled the ball into the path of Son who calmly rolled in his shot from a tight angle.

Robertson's wild lunge on Emerson Royal saw him red-carded after a VAR check in the 79th minute, although the tackle looked no worse than the one he received from Kane in the first half.

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ISL: Another ATKMB game deferred, players speak up(ISL)

“We barely have enough hotel staff available to prepare food,” said an official of a team in the Indian Super League (ISL). Till Saturday morning no player or support staff in that team had tested positive for Covid-19 but many among staff in their hotel have. With players, their families, team staff, hotel staff and coach drivers being in the same tier of the bio-secure bubble created for ISL8, the spurt in positive cases meant that the team has been sent to hard quarantine.

The team is scheduled to play midweek but does not know if the match will go ahead because training has been suspended since its last game. It is not the only one. ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC too haven’t trained for days because of Covid-19 cases. SC East Bengal’s new coach Mario Rivera joined the staff after the 0-1 loss to Jamshedpur FC on Tuesday. Having finished the mandatory 14-day quarantine, the Spaniard is again isolating because the team has been put in a hard quarantine. On Saturday, the phlebotomist assigned to the SC East Bengal by ISL too tested positive and had to be replaced. FC Goa and Odisha FC too have reported Covid-19 cases.

The uncertainty about games and the four-tiered bio-bubble being breached across team hotels in Goa has got players speaking out. FC Goa skipper Edu Bedia has called it an “adulterated competition” after their 1-1 draw against NorthEast United on Friday. It was a game for which FC Goa coach Derrick Pereira said, “we had to rearrange the line-up on our way to the stadium.”

ATK Mohun Bagan’s central defender Tiri tweeted about the stress of living in a bubble. “More time in a bubble? I think it’s not healthy for the mind, nor is it healthy not to train for days and go play the game directly,” he said.

On Thursday, FC Goa president Akshay Tandon had tweeted asking fans to reach out to players and staff. “Send them your love and let them know we are grateful for their contribution during these difficult times,” he had said. In a series of tweets, Tandon spoke about FC Goa players and staff being in isolation for 12 days and that living in bubbles breached by Covid-19 is “much much harder”.

So far, the league has been largely silent. It took them till 11am on Saturday to announce that the day’s fixture, ATKMB-Bengaluru FC, has been postponed.

“Hero Indian Super League (ISL) announces the postponement of the match between ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC scheduled to be played on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at PJN Stadium, Fatorda,” said the media release.

“Each match is assessed on a number of factors including the ability of the clubs to field a team; the severity of Covid-19 breakout at the club(s); and the ability of the club personnel to safely prepare for and play the match. The health and safety of all personnel in various bubbles remains our priority, and the League & Clubs will continue to monitor the situation and act accordingly.”

Given that neither ATKMB nor Bengaluru FC could “safely prepare” for Saturday’s game as they hadn’t trained—the Kolkata team has been in isolation since last Saturday (January 8) when positive cases led to their game against Odisha FC being deferred and Bengaluru FC hadn’t practised since Thursday—it wasn’t clear why the announcement didn’t come earlier.

Neither was it evident why the match was said to be on schedule during the telecast of Friday’s game between FC Goa and NorthEast United. Or why the league sent out a preview of the game on Thursday after both teams cancelled the coaches’ customary pre-match media duties.

Saturday’s cancellation got midfielder Bedia, who has been with FC Goa since 2017, angry. “Yesterday, we played the game with 9 casualties due to Covid cases. Today, for the second consecutive match another team suspends its game for the same reason. Can someone explain that to me? Adulterated competition,” said Bedia on social media.

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