Media hail “game for the ages” and slam “inexplicable” ref in Liverpool draw

There was plenty of controversy to dissect from Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham, with the media hugely critical of a dire refereeing performance.

The Reds were rarely at their best on Sunday afternoon and ended up having to settle for a share of the spoils.

Harry Kane and Diogo Jota traded first-half goals before Andy Robertson headed the visitors in front with time running out.

Son Heung-min made it 2-2 after Alisson fluffed his lines and Robertson was then sent off as Liverpool saw out a tense finale.

The draw means Klopp’s team are now three points adrift of Premier League leaders Man City ahead of the scheduled Boxing Day clash with Leeds at Anfield.

Here’s a look at how the media reacted to the match.


It would be wrong not to start with focusing on a fantastic Premier League clash…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (R) celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Telegraph‘s Jason Burt was left in awe of a memorable spectacle:

“This was a game for the ages; the game of the season. No question about it. Package it up and present it to any sceptic who doubts the Premier League is the most exciting, thrilling, chaotic and, yes, controversial league in the world. The only grumble? The officiating is not at the same high level as the football.

“There was thunder and blunder, goals, chances, misses, saves, a red card given and one strangely not given, penalties that should have been awarded and were not, inconsistencies and intensity and, at the final whistle, a draw.

“Six matches were called off this weekend but all the thrills and spills missing from those fixtures were found here. This was heavy metal football with the decibels through the roof; mad, bad and simply glorious.”

Jamie Braidwood of the Independent felt four players stood out, playing their part in an epic contest:

“Amid the chaotic brushes of Tottenham‘s enthralling draw with Liverpool, two semblances of normality could be seen streaking in opposite directions on the canvas.

“One, a vertical flash of white, was the return of Harry Kane and Son Heung-min’s partnership, flickering into life for the first time under Antonio Conte. The other, a red diagonal from right to left, was the combination between Liverpool’s full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

“Both duos were crucial to a sublime, mad game of football – perhaps the best of the season so far. It was frantic, chaotic, but also imperfect and irregular, two teams hell-bent on attacking the holes that were open in the other side.

“It was the headache-inducing final throes of a Premier League weekend disrupted by Covid-19 – and who knows where we go from here.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Matt Barlow of the Mail hailed both teams’ efforts on the day, during these complicated Covid times:

“Liverpool, too, were impressive. Full of energy, purpose and intent despite the relentless schedule and some key absentees. And, on a weekend when the fixtures were devastated by positive Covid tests, both teams can take great credit for producing a thrilling contest.

“There were goals, there were wonderful saves, terrible missed chances and the momentum swung one way and then the other.


“Either team might have won. Antonio Conte will reflect on opportunities spurned by Kane, Son and Dele Alli. Jurgen Klopp, who was shown a yellow card during a heated spell in the first half, will feel his team made most of the running and were on the wrong end of the decisions.

“Still, a point each is perhaps fair. Spurs are a different proposition under Conte and Klopp’s impressive record against them stands. The German has lost only once in 15 games.”


There was plenty of time to criticise Paul Tierney, though…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson is shown a red card and sent off by referee Paul Tierney during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Echo‘s Ian Doyle was left stunned by the officiating on show:

“Debate over whether Robertson should have been dismissed – he could have few arguments – would have been rendered moot had Kane already been given his marching orders.

“The Tottenham man, though, incredibly stayed on.

“And throw in the truly inexplicable decision not to award a first-half penalty when Diogo Jota was shoved in the back when lining up a shot inside the area, it’s easy to see why the visiting side were bristling with a sense of injustice throughout much of an absorbingly daft game, Jurgen Klopp booked for losing his rag one time too many at Tierney.”

This Is Anfield didn’t go easy on the hapless Tierney, either:

“The Video Assistant Referee seemed to have taken the day off in this game, right up until the point they recommended referee Paul Tierney take a look at Robertson’s challenge.

“Two earlier incidents were not looked at when they should have been, which would have changed the outlook of the game in Liverpool’s favour.

“Harry Kane went in high and with force on Robertson — the definition of “endangering the safety of an opponent” which constitutes serious foul play in the laws of the game. The left-back did well to lift his foot off the ground just in time to avoid serious injury.

“The referee showed a yellow, VAR should have changed it to red but didn’t. England’s captain escaped.

Then when Diogo Jota was felled by Emerson Royal as he readied himself to shoot, the referee waved play on and the VAR didn’t intervene.”

Goal‘s Neil Jones hinted that Kane receives special treatment from referees – it’s hard to disagree:

“They finished with 10 men, Andy Robertson shown a straight red card for lashing out at Emerson Royal just eight minutes after giving his side the lead at 2-1. They will, though, wonder how Harry Kane escaped the same punishment for a wild lunge on Robertson in the first half.

“England captain privileges, perhaps?


“Then came Robertson’s moment of madness, the red card awarded after referee Paul Tierney was advised to check his pitchside monitor. No real complaints there, other than the decisions which had preceded it. Tierney and his team had an afternoon to forget.”


The state of the title race was also touched upon…

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 19, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson (2nf from R) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the second goal during the FA Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

TIA feel it may be a two-horse, following more dropped points from Chelsea at Wolves:

“With Chelsea drawing against Wolves, meaning they have won only two of their last six games, the title race is increasingly looking like one between Liverpool and Manchester City.

“City dispatched Newcastle, just as Liverpool had done earlier in the week, and now sit three points ahead of the Reds in the table.

“Liverpool’s next game is (scheduled to be) Leeds on Boxing Day — a team City saw off with ease at the Etihad recently and the Reds will be expected to do the same.

“Klopp’s side will need to be at their relentless best throughout the rest of the campaign if they are to keep up with Pep Guardiola’s league leaders.”

Finally, David Hytner of the Guardian believes it should be considered a good point for Liverpool, despite losing ground on Man City:

“The point felt better for Spurs, even if they were up against ten men in the closing stages – the evidence mounting that Antonio Conte is building something in north London.

“The manager remains unbeaten after five league matches, winning 11 points and, after the Covid-scarred fortnight he and the club have experienced – which led to three postponements – this was hugely impressive.

“Liverpool had watched the leaders, Manchester City, win at Newcastle and they now trail them by three points. They had plenty of regrets, mainly involving Tierney, but the draw was not a bad one, particularly not with Klopp missing his first-choice midfield.”