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It just had to be the most talked-about striker in the Premier League who settled this crucial Champions League six-pointer.
No, not Harry Kane – even though English football’s meteor man scored one, set up another and threatened to start a riot on The Kop.
This time it was Mario Balotelli – the one man who makes more headlines than Kane, even when he barely plays.
The Italian hell-raiser finally netted his first Premier League goal for Liverpool on his 13th outing to earn a critical and well-deserved three points for Brendan Rodgers, after Spurs twice equalised.
Lazar Markovic’s early strike for Liverpool was cancelled out by Kane. And after Steven Gerrard reminded us the Reds too have a local hero when he tucked in a spot-kick, Kane ghosted into an offside position to tee up Mousa Dembele for Tottenham’s second.
Yet Mr Mayhem as at the ready to settle a lively old affair with the quality which first made him a star before all of the moodiness and lunacy – the art of goalscoring.
When he prodded home an Adam Lallana cross seven minutes from time, Rodgers celebrated by punching the air and laughing openly. After all the torment Balotelli had caused him, this was some game for him to settle.
It pulsed with drama and throbbed with significance in the race for a top-four place.
Liverpool are now within a point of Spurs and just three adrift of the Champions League spots. Spurs had conceded 12 without reply in their previous three meetings with the Reds, who threatened another avalanche early on.
Sturridge was instantly sharp on his return to the startling line-up and forced a fine save from Hugo Lloris after Jordon Ibe and Markovic combined to feed him.
Steven Gerrard curled a free-kick wide, so even when Liverpool opened the scoring on 14 minutes, it seemed overdue.
Simon Mignolet’s punt was met by Sturridge, who tangled with Jan Vertonghen, the ball breaking to Markovic for a scudding shot which fooled Lloris, who could only help it into the net.
Sturridge broke clean through again when Nabil Bentaleb added to a catalogue of Tottenham errors, although this time Eric Dier thwarted him. But Kane, who scored both of Tottenham’s goals in Saturday’s north London derby win over Arsenal, cannot be kept at bay.
Erik Lamela exchanged passes with Christian Eriksen, who slipped one in for Kane to put Mamadou Sakho off balance with a little sleight of foot and then shoot past Mignolet.
Liverpool vs Spurs shots (on target)
When Ibe centred in first-half stoppage-time, Vertonghen dithered and Sturridge improvised with a saucy back-heel which cannoned back off a post.
Then as Sturridge went on a weaving run seven minutes into the second half, Danny Rose tripped him.While the fall was exaggerated, the call was right from referee Phil Dowd and Gerrard slotted home the penalty.
Spurs almost hit back straight away when Mignolet tipped over Lamela’s snap-shot.
And they were level on the hour as Dowd enraged the Kop first by booking Gerrard for a foul on Kane and then for failing to spot the man of the moment was offside from Eriksen’s free-kick.
Eriksen’s shot was pushed out by Mignolet and Kane made the most of his stolen yard to square for Dembele to nudge home.
But when Ibe fed Adam Lallana, his low cross allowed fellow sub Balotelli to ghost past Dier and poke home.
The striker barely celebrated after the goal or at the final whistle – but the Merseyside fire brigade will have been on red alert for fireworks later.
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