Date: 11th February 2015 at 1:26am
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Liverpool moved within three points of the top four after a pulsating 3-2 victory over Tottenham at Anfield.

Mario Balotelli came off the bench to fire the winner with his first Premier League goal in a Red shirt, on a night that saw Tottenham come back to level the scores on two occasions.

Brendan Rodgers deservedly took plenty of the credit for a crucial three points, with a bold team selection and a couple of inspired substitutions.

Lazar Markovic was recalled to the side in place of the injured Raheem Sterling, whilst Jordon Ibe retained his place in the starting eleven after a man of the match performance in the stalemate at Goodison Park on Saturday.

It was the Reds who started the brighter of the two in form sides, with Daniel Sturridge a key figure having made his first start for Liverpool since the corresponding fixture in August.

The pre-match build up centred around his battle with fellow English striker Harry Kane, and the two were heavily involved in the early incidents.

Kane first went down under a challenge from Mignolet in the box, which on another day could have quite easily been seen as a penalty.

Sturridge meanwhile forced a fine stop from Hugo Lloris with a snapshot inside the box, whilst also threatening to latch onto two short backpasses from the Tottenham midfield.

The 25-year-old did have a hand in the opening goal, collecting a pinpoint long ball from Mignolet, and setting Lazar Markovic in on goal. The Serb drove at the last defender, and hit a left foot shot which bobbled into the corner off the hand of Hugo Lloris to give the Reds a deserved lead.

Harry Kane is very much the man of the moment in this season’s Premier League, and the 21-year-old had his say after 26 minutes, collecting a ball from Erik Lamela and hitting a shot under the body of Simon Mignolet to level the score.

It was Sturridge to try next, collecting the ball inside the box from the impressive Jordon Ibe, and hitting an audacious backheel against the post moments before the half time whistle blew.

The Reds number 15 produced his most influential moment just eight minutes after the restart, once again collecting the ball from Ibe and driving at the Tottenham defence. Danny Rose clipped him in the box, and referee Phil Dowd pointed to the spot after the linesman had correctly flagged for a penalty.

Steven Gerrard fired his 10th goal of the season from the spot, via the hand of Lloris.

Whilst Dowd and the linesman had worked in tandem to produce the correct decision at one end, the same could not be said just eight minutes later.

The referee awarded Tottenham a free kick on the edge of the box when replays indicated Gerrard had clearly won the ball from Kane. Mignolet kept out the effort from Eriksen – having moments before produced a top class tip over to deny Erik Lamela – only to see Kane turn the rebound back across the six yard box for Dembele to bundle home. Replays indicated Kane had been in an offside position when the free kick was struck.

Sturridge remained a constant threat, and had a decent claim for a penalty turned down when Erik Dier made a challenge from behind with the Liverpool striker bearing down on goal.

On 75 minutes, Brendan Rodgers made the bold decision to take Sturridge off in place of Mario Balotelli, whilst Lazar Markovic was also replaced with Adam Lallana.

It was the substitutes who combined for the winning goal, with Lallana collecting Jordon Ibe’s pass and delivering a perfect pass across the six yard box, for Balotelli to fire home his first league goal for the club.

No celebration followed from the Italian striker, despite the roof almost coming off of Anfield through the noise.

Tottenham threw everything forward in an attempt to draw level for a third time, but the night belonged to Liverpool – and their much maligned £16million summer signing.


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