Headliner Mario Balotelli does it again
Oh!!! You ______(fill as you please) footballer. Once again, Balotelli has grabbed the headlines. I tell you, this man here is a news seller. It may not have been brilliance – for Balotelli, it was just one swish of his boot to give this racy thriller of a game a fitting end. The game had already played out to such a pulsating beat that it can be said that it had the element of a tango-ing sword-fight.
Such drama, so many actors, so many sub-plots—be it down the centre or mostly the left of Liverpool and the right of Spurs. Then there were some Hollywood passes, some sly tackles and even some old fashion tackling.
The villain of this enthralling production was Phil Dowd, who it seemed was putting the brakes on a speeding track only to keep it on course. He got most of the decisions right although he was quick to pull out the card. The offside call as to Spurs second equalizer was too close a call, but he got the penalty calls right—the one he gave and the one he didn’t. Both good calls.
Something in the air
But let’s rewind to the start of the game. As mesmerizing was the game towards the end, the entire game was a class apart. Here on display were the most inform teams, both having had an upturn in their recent fortunes. Managers whose tactics, philosophies were coming to the fore. Belief was flowing through both sides as they look to push for a top four finish.
The game itself had something in the air. The teams as they walked out of the tunnel, seemed confident and they embraced the occasion. The game began on the front foot and with both teams pressing hard, playing direct football there was end-to-end stuff.
In the 16th minute, there was a goal-saving tackle by Emre Can, which was worthy of it being called a last-minute tackle. Emre Can once again oozed confidence, being at times unstoppable, from the first minute till the end. Even Sakho wasn’t bad, he played neatly without being overly physical.
But the breakthrough was delivered by Lazar Markovic, another one of those summer signings.....oh is it really them????.......Awe aside, this Liverpool team now has other source of goals.
Rustiness seemed to be a thing of the past for Sturridge though, he was confident enough to challenge Eric Dier to a foot race for the ball. He may have confidently beaten the defender for pace, but his finishing wasn’t as lethal as his pace on the night. Sturridge though wasn’t short on ideas, as he almost back-heeled Liverpool into the lead at the end of first half.
Oh, in between there was this nonchalant finish by Harry Kane, the latest heartthrob in North London, or might you say a National Star. Spurs really know to make world stars, its just that those stars choose to go to bigger clubs. Maybe Kane can be the answer and hopefully buck this trend.
Balotelli goal decides frantic tie
The second half was as frantic as the first. Come second half, time for other characters in this piece to show their class. Up steps Erik Lamela, Simon Mignolet and Eriksen. But Dembele is the real one who catches the eye. With the elegance of a gazelle, time seems to stand still whenever he receives the ball. An extra millisecond, a slight feint, a stop there.
If Couthinho was dazzling on the wing, with little mazy dribbles, here it was Dembele, with swift turns as if he had elastic in his feet. Mind you, he doesn’t have that low centre of gravity. It was Liverpool who again popped ahead through a 53rd minute penalty, thanks to the linesman, once again a brilliant contribution to the game.
For once, it seemed Liverpool would hold onto their lead, but Spurs were relentless. There was a passage of play where there was relentless pressing by both the sides till one of them committed a mistake. There were moments of amateurism when Spurs were called up for a foul throw, a rarity in professional football. If this was a drama, then this foul throw would constitute the comedy part.
The man of the hour, Harry Kane, again played a crucial role in getting the equalizer for Spurs. Though he seemed to be offside, grudgingly we have to accept that it was his presence of mind that should be appreciated. Dembele, who had such a fine evening capped it off with a goal.
The script though had one final twist. Enter Balotelli, with a smart moustache, and shockingly dark hair, devoid of any highlights. Has he grown up? Only time will tell. But here he showed that it is still too early to forget him. He promptly scored the winner, didn’t celebrate, and finally walks off without a smile into the tunnel. Come on man, at least give us a smile.
He did give us a smile, only not on the pitch on instagram --- (https://instagram.com/mb459/)