Deciding goal comes very late as Spurs take victory at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham’s first threat on the Liverpool goal came after four minutes when excellent work on the right wing from Aaron Lennon got him past Paul Konchesky, the England man delivered a cross to the penalty spot where Luka Modric meet it with a volley which wasn’t cleanly struck. Pepe Reina was not troubled by the effort.
Liverpool could have taken the lead moments later when a blocked clearance from Spurs keeper Gomes was tossed around the penalty box before Maxi Rodriguez took charge and fired goal ward. He was effort, though strong, was off target.
As ten minutes passed Tottenham suffered a big blow as Rafael Van der Vaart’s afternoon was cut short when the injury he’d been carrying reared it’s head forcing the Dutchman off and out of the game. He was replaced by Jermain Defoe.
Maxi Rodriguez continued to be a focal point for Liverpool as a silky run from Fernando Torres allowed his Spanish compatriot a chance to test Gomes once more. His shot this time drew the save from Gomes, but still the score remained 0-0.
The first yellow card of the afternoon belonged to Raul Meireles as he was judged to have brought down the marauding Gareth Bale as he tried a spring a counter attack for Spurs. Replays showed that although he got a slight touch of the ball, he did slide through Bale in the process.
Spurs fans were appealing to Martin Atkinson shortly after when Alan Hutton’s run resulted in the Scot tumbling to the ground in the box. There was little, if any contact and Atkinson waved away all appeals.
Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina would have been thankful for the intervention of his captain, Jamie Carragher as following a low, daisy cutting cross from Modric, the Spaniard could only deflect the ball away directly into the tracks of Defoe who was steaming into the six yard box but his shot was blocked by Carragher who slid feet first in a desperate effort to defend the goal. Defoe was miffed his shot didn’t test Reina more.
Harry Redknapp was forced to make another unplanned substitution when after 34 minutes Sebastien Bassong replaced Younes Kaboul who limped off with what appeared to be a knee injury, although what caused the injury was not clear even with the benefit of repeat viewings of replays.
It had to be seen whether using two of his allotted three subs would harm Redknapp’s tactical thinking later in the game.
After 40 minutes Carragher had to sacrifice himself for the team as another run from Modric forced the skipper to bring down the Croat in an act of desperate defending. The yellow card was shown.
After much industry and toil from Liverpool, the breakthrough came from an unusual source after 41 minutes as Martin Skrtel grabbed himself a goal in scruffy fashion. The move was begun by Meireles, whose free kick from deep was headed by Skrtel into the back of the head of Ngog. The ball returned to Skrtel who then stabbed the ball past Gomes and into the net. It was no more than Liverpool had deserved.
As the half drew to a close the Reds could have doubled or even tripled their lead. Firstly, Maxi Rodriguez lost control of the ball as he was trying to round the keeper. And secondly, and even more surprisingly, Torres was clear on goal, and he too fluffed the chance.
As the second half begun Torres saw another opportunity to score slip away as a wonderful through ball from Lucas sliced open the Tottenham defence but as Torres reached the six yard box Bassong threw himself at his feet and poked the ball away. Excellent defending, but a fully sharp Torres would surely have put the chance away.
Liverpool hearts were fluttering shortly after when after 51 minutes Meireles showed his defensive ability when a thunderous volley from Bale was cleared on the line by the Portuguese midfielder. It was an excellent piece of defensive awareness and showed his contribution to be valuable.
Tottenham have been the comeback kings this year, just ask Arsenal. But they had a chance to level the game in unusual circumstances. Firstly, Defoe earned a dubious free kick on the edge of the area as he ran into the outstretched arm of Carragher, that decision seemed generous.
From the resulting Bale kick, David Ngog, who is positioned in the wall clearly handballs and the penalty is given. Defoe is chosen to take the spot kick but his record this year is far from exemplary and once again his penalty goes wide and Liverpool held onto the lead.
Parity wasn’t far away as more determined running from Modric created havoc in the Liverpool box. His cross from the left was diverted into the Reds net by Skrtel who wiped out his own effort and reignited the game.
Liverpool had their own penalty shout when Dirk Kuyt and Benoit Assou-Ekotto came together. It was unclear what contact was made but referee Atkinson was in doubt and said no.
Both teams continued to try and find the go ahead goal but none was forthcoming, even though Defoe had a goal chalked off for a clear offside infringement.
Carragher was forced from the game late on as he left the field with the help of the Liverpool medical staff with an arm injury.
The deciding moment was yet to come as Aaron Lennon managed to burst free from the Reds defence and score the clinching goal which earned all three points for Redknapp's men.
With persistance like this Spurs will continue to frustrate teams as they show they are never dead and buried.
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