Mario Balotelli scored his first Premier League goal for Liverpool as the Italian’s late strike secured a 3-2 win over Tottenham on Tuesday that boosted their hopes of a top-four finish. Brendan Rodgers’ side had twice led through Lazar Markovic and a Steven Gerrard penalty only to be pegged back by goals from Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele in a thrilling encounter at Anfield. Balotelli, who hadn’t scored a league goal since arriving from AC Milan in August, came off the bench to deliver the decisive blow with seven minutes left when he tapped home to secure a vital success against one of Liverpool’s rivals for a Champions League spot. "We knew it would be a tough game but we got the three points to keep closing the gap,” said Liverpool assistant manager Colin Pascoe. Read all our English Premier League coverage here "Mario always works hard in training. Recently he has been ill and also had a knock on his foot and couldn’t get his boot on but he kept going and deserved his goal. "He got the winner so I’m sure he’s happy. He knew he might have to play a part and he did.” With Raheem Sterling out with a foot injury, Rodgers gave his place to fit-again England striker Daniel Sturridge, who made his first start since August. After some early pressure Liverpool opened the scoring in the 15th minute. A long high ball controlled by Sturridge found its way to Lazar Markovic who effortlessly glided to the left edge of the area and saw his low shot, not the most powerful, squirm past the weak hand offered by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Harry Kane took his tally in the Premier League to 13 goals – more than any Spurs striker managed in the whole of last season – when he finished off a slick passing move from the visitors just before the half-hour mark. But Liverpool’s advantage was quickly reasserted when they were awarded a penalty shortly after the break as Sturridge tumbled under a clumsy challenge from Danny Rose, and Steven Gerrard confidently struck the spot-kick past Lloris. The visitors fought back to level matters for a second time on the hour. Christian Eriksen’s dipping free-kick was parried by Simon Mignolet and Kane scuffed it into the six-yard box for Moussa Dembele, who bundled the ball over the line from close range. Balotelli replaced Sturridge in the 74th minute and Rodgers also introduced Adam Lallana -- the duo rewarded their manager by combining to devastating effect for Liverpool’s winner. With seven minutes left on the clock Lallana fired a low cross into the penalty area and there was Balotelli, on hand to tap the ball past Lloris from close range to send Anfield into raptures. "It must have been a great game to watch but we knew were always going to create chances and with Daniel Sturridge back we knew we were always going to have a threat in behind,” added Pascoe. "We talked about needing to win to get the gap closer and get closer to the top four. We will be looking to do the same when we play at Southampton in our next game - win again and keep closing the gap." The result was a blow for Spurs’ hopes of a Champions League place, but their manager Mauricio Pochettino insisted: "It was a great game and I am disappointed with the result but proud of the efforts of my players. “We have a young team and believe in our way of playing. The effort and performance was good. We played to try and win the game and I felt we deserved more."