Jose Mourinho said Tottenham must learn to kill games off if they are to win a first league title in 60 years after Roberto Firmino’s late winner earned Liverpool a 2-1 win over his side on Wednesday.
The Brazilian’s towering header ended an 11-game unbeaten league run for Mourinho’s men and opened up a three-point lead for the defending champions at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool enjoyed 76 percent possession and had 11 shots on target to Tottenham’s two, but Mourinho still believed Spurs would have been deserving winners had they taken their chances early in the second half.
Steven Bergwijn hit the post and Harry Kane uncharacteristically headed a huge opportunity over at 1-1.
“We were so close to a win, not so close to a draw,” said Mourinho, who had an exchange of words with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp at full-time.
“A draw would be a bad result in relation to the performance, so you can imagine how we feel with the defeat.
“Of course they had more of the ball but when we had it, we knew how to hurt them. We have to score — the second, third goal, we have to score it to kill the game.
“In matches like these where you don’t have 10 chances, just three or four, you have to score three and kill it, which we didn’t.”
Liverpool are now 66 games unbeaten in the league at Anfield and showed why they remain the favourites in a wide-open title race with their ability to consistently win tight games late on.
“Completely deserved,” said Klopp of his side’s victory. “A really good game against a top side, a counter-attacking monster.
“You lose one ball and you end up with an 80 percent possibility in your own box so you have to really concentrate.”
Before kick-off, the Liverpool support, players and officials paid their respects to former manager Gerard Houllier, who died earlier this week at 73.
Unusually kicking towards 2,000 fans in the Kop in the first half, Liverpool made a storming start as they swarmed over Spurs and could count themselves unfortunate not to have been out of sight by half-time.
Liverpool earned their luck for the opening goal when Mohamed Salah’s shot took a huge deflection off Toby Alderweireld and looped beyond the helpless Hugo Lloris in off the far post.
Curtis Jones should have done better with a big chance to double the home side’s advantage moments later as Lloris was again well-positioned to make a comfortable save.
But the moment Tottenham had been waiting for to launch the counter-attack that has thrust them into title contention, beating Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal in recent weeks, arrived on 33 minutes.
Giovani Lo Celso’s brilliant pass opened up a makeshift Liverpool backline with 19-year-old Rhys Williams partnering midfielder Fabinho in central defence.
Son Heung-min timed his run to perfection to stay onside and coolly slotted past Alisson Becker for his 14th goal of the season.
Having weathered the storm, Spurs went on to enjoy the far better chances early in the second half.
Bergwijn prodded wide from a narrow angle after Williams showed his inexperience by getting caught under a simple ball down the middle.
The Dutch international had an even better sight of goal just after the hour mark when he hit the base of the post when clean through and from the resulting corner, Kane headed a glorious chance over.
Liverpool continued to enjoy more possession and nearly unpicked the lock of the Tottenham defence when Sadio Mane spun Serge Aurier and crashed a rising shot off the bar.
But Mourinho will be bitterly disappointed that his side were eventually undone by a set-piece as from Andy Robertson’s corner, Firmino rose highest to silence the critics of his goal record with what could be one of the most important all season.