It appeared Jurgen Klopp’s side were about to hand the initiative to Manchester City after Lucas Moura cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s first-half header, leaving the Reds level on 77 points but significantly behind on goal difference.
However, Salah – now eight matches without finding the net – popped up at the far post to head goalwards; Hugo Lloris could only palm out weakly and Toby Alderweireld got himself in an horrendous mess to divert it back past his goalkeeper in the 90th minute.
It was a narrow escape for Klopp’s side, who return to the top of the table with a two-point lead having played one match more, having faded badly after starting so well.
Here, we rate the Liverpool players.
Alisson Becker: Looked edgy early on but was untested until the second half, when he held firm to deny Kane but was undone by Moura. 5/10
Trent Alexander-Arnold: Did his defensive work well, got into good attacking positions and seemed to fancy his chances of scoring directly from a corner. 7
Virgil van Dijk: Read the game superbly and kept Kane quiet, although there was the odd misplaced pass. 7
Joel Matip: Looked steady alongside the rock-solid Van Dijk. 7
Andy Robertson: Made great use of the space he was afforded and delivered a perfect cross for Firmino to head the opener. 8
James Milner: A typical hard-working display, with committed runs and some good delivery. 7
Jordan Henderson: Was always in support as Liverpool attacked but did occasionally lose possession. 6
Georginio Wijnaldum: Showed tenacity and drive in the midfield. 6
Mohamed Salah: His non-stop performance did not end his goal drought but forced the late winner. 7
Roberto Firmino: Liverpool’s biggest threat in the box, his runs kept Spurs on their toes and he took his goal expertly. 8
Sadio Mane: Showed determination in defence and attack and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet with a fine effort that curled narrowly wide. 7
Divock Origi (for Henderson, 77): Gave Liverpool a bit more thrust up front as they chased a winner. 6
Fabinho (for Milner, 77): Brought more energy to the midfield in the closing stages. 6
Dejan Lovren (for Salah, 90): Came on to ensure Liverpool protected their last-gasp lead. 6
The Belgian defender was aghast after keeper Hugo Lloris pushed a Mohamed Salah header against him.
It settled a tense encounter at Anfield after Lucas Moura had cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s 16th-minute opener.
Andy Robertson burst down the left and delivered an inch-perfect cross for the Brazilian to head home.
But Liverpool were wasteful with opportunities and Spurs came back stronger to level in the 70th minute.
Harry Kane’s quick free kick found Kieran Trippier on the right, and he picked out Christian Eriksen whose scuffed cross was finished by Moura.
Moussa Sissoko then blazed over when clear before the frenetic finale that saw the Reds move two points clear of Manchester City at the top.
SPURS DID NOT BACK THEMSELVES
Having seen Chelsea snatch victory in Cardiff, this was a game Spurs could not afford to lose in the battle for a top-four place.
But Mauricio Pochettino’s decision to play a three-man central defence reeked of fear when they should have been fearless.
This is a side that has gifted individuals and is in the Champions League quarter-finals, good enough to stop Barcelona and overcome Borussia Dortmund in style.
Pochettino should have had greater conviction that his side could win at Anfield for the first time since 2011.
⚽️ Liverpool have now scored 4️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ goals in 197 matches under Jurgen Klopp.— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 31, 2019
36 different Liverpool players have scored in that number & Toby Alderweireld is the 10th player to contribute an own goal pic.twitter.com/1EogKRIO1x
In Jan Vertonghen and Alderweireld they have two of the best centre-backs in Europe, and with Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose in support at full-back, they should have had enough to cope with the Reds attack.
What this change in system did was invite pressure and allow Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold space to drive down their flanks as there was this lack of support in those areas.
Trippier and Rose were isolated, exposed and the centre-backs had a man spare when needed elsewhere.
In one comical incident that summed up the uncertainty, Vertonghen tackled Davinson Sanchez.
And when Firmino headed home the opener, all three were there and couldn’t deal with two Liverpool forwards.
Just after Sanchez was sacrificed in the 69th minute and the system changed, Spurs got their equaliser and looked stronger.
HEND OF THE ROAD FOR SKIPPER
It is commendable that Jurgen Klopp has faith in his players. He trusts them and backs them.
Many would not have gone with Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield against Spurs.
Too similar, too static.
For an hour they served Klopp dutifully and were dependable. They worked hard and were warriors against the waspish visiting midfield who buzzed around looking to create opportunities.
But it came at the expense of Liverpool’s own creativity. They were lacking in someone to take control, take command and hold the ball amid the wave of Spurs pressure.
Henderson was perhaps once that man, but maybe it is now time for Fabinho – who came on with just 15 minutes to go – to take centre stage. The Brazilian offers more than leadership and effort. He is clever and confident on the ball and the Reds are desperate for someone to make the most of their strengths. They had just three shots on target in this game. That is not good enough for a side chasing the title.
HANDY ANDY GROWING IN STATURE
Liverpool have been blessed with great defenders over the years.
And while Virgil van Dijk is rightly mentioned as a contender for Player of the Year awards and Alexander-Arnold in the Young Player category, the merits of Robertson cannot be ignored.
When he placed a left-wing cross straight onto the head of Firmino for Liverpool’s opener, it was his ninth assist of this league campaign.
In terms of left-backs, only Andy Hinchcliffe 14 years ago and Leighton Baines in the 2010-11 season have bettered that tally with 11.
Andrew Robertson has the same number of Premier League assists as Christian Eriksen, Paul Pogba and Raheem Sterling this season 🔑 pic.twitter.com/5o6pGPFUCo— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 31, 2019
Given that duo usually took free-kicks and corners and Robertson has to compete with others for that opportunity, it makes the Scot’s statistics all the more remarkable.
What he possesses is an attacking instinct reminiscent of some of the finest full-backs, someone like Marcelo at Real Madrid or David Alaba at Bayern Munich.
He is improving on his defensive awareness too as he showed when making a vital block to deny Christian Eriksen.
Robertson may not get the attention and plaudits he deserves and that may have something to do with Scotland’s struggles on the world stage.
But he has a drive and desire that others should seek to follow and, at 25, is likely to displace Alan Kennedy as Liverpool’s best-ever left back.
Kids aged between seven and 10 years old from Dubai’s DES School were invited to fire questions at the 26-year-old – some football-related and others a little more light-hearted.
Asked for his career highlight so far, Salah, who has been rested during the international break, unsurprisingly picked one of his proudest moments in an Egypt shirt as he said: “I would say the day I scored the goal which qualified Egypt for the World Cup 2018.”
Naturally questions deviated to a more relaxed theme and Salah was quizzed on his favourite and worst subjects in school.
There was only one vocation he has loved, though.
“I didn’t have a favourite subject in school so I’m glad I know how to play football,” Salah said.
Following the Q&A, Salah then made an appearance at the adidas Originals store at The Dubai Mall to greet competition winners and fans, as well as enjoy a performance by local Abu Dhabi-based rapper, Freek with his own track ‘Mo Salah’.
But the day will be long remembered by the school children who were given the opportunity to engage with one of their heroes and one student, Yusef Aneel, said: “I had the best day with Mo Salah. I got the opportunity to ask him questions and play with him after.”