Tottenham 2 v Liverpool 1 – Match Report
In just one game, Spurs have now accumulated more points than it took them to achieve in eight games last year. The “2 points 8 games” saga that started last season was a distant memory to Spurs fans leaving White Hart Lane yesterday, as optimism once again came off the Tottenham supporters in waves. Of course, the team will probably go and cock it up when they lose to Hull in the next game, but for now Spurs fans are content.
- Spurs will hope a good start to the season will wash away the dissapoitment that marred last seasons campaign
Liverpool supporters will understandably not be so happy. They watched as their side were out-classed for long periods of the game and then saw two decent penalty shouts ignored by the referee. Rafa Benitez was spitting fire after the game, bemoaning Phil Dowd for not giving Liverpool two late spot-kicks.
In truth, if Liverpool had snatched a draw through a late penalty, it would have been incredibly unjust. Spurs were the brighter team from the offset, and looked as if they had had the more beneficial pre-season. The visitors looked sluggish and tired, Fernando Torres in particular never threatening the defenders such was his lack of pace and energy.
The game started badly for Liverpool as their two centre-backs, Jamie Carragher and Martin Skrtel, clashed heads in a sickening fashion. A break down in communication led the two defenders to jump into one another as they both went for the same high ball, resulting in both of the players falling to the floor dazed. Both played on (Carragher with a massive bandage) but struggled against Tottenham’s pace in the final third, and the home side had a number of chances to take the lead.
- That”s one impressive bandage
Most of these chances went to former Liverpool player Robbie Keane and the Spurs skipper could have had a hat-trick before half-time. Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina saved superbly from one of his efforts, racing across the goal to stop Keane’s glanced header. At this point it appeared Reina might go through the whole afternoon unbeaten; a Benoit Assou-Ekotto wonder goal was soon to prove that assumption wrong.
With half-time just minutes away, Martin Skrtel conceded a free kick in a dangerous position and Tom Huddlestone drove the free kick into the wall. The rebound found it’s way to left back Assou-Ekotto, and the Cameroon international dispatched a fantastic shot which flew past Reina into the net. It was the first goal of Assou-Ekotto’s professional career, and a very good one at that. The goal was well deserved for a Tottenham side shining in confidence, and the teams headed into the dressing rooms with Spurs one up.
- Assou-Ekotto was as shocked as anyone when he realised he’d put Spurs 1 up
Liverpool were slightly brighter after the break and a neat move involving Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres eventually climaxed in a low Steven Gerrard shot. The shot passed Gomes’ outstretched fingers but verrred just past the left post. Gerrard’s opposing midfielder than had a chance of his own moments later; Wilson Palacios hit a powerful shot that required a fingertip save by Reina to stop Spurs going two up.
With the hour mark approaching, Liverpool were gifted a way back into the game when Heurelho Gomes needlessly bought down Glen Johnson and Phil Dowd whistled for a penalty. Steven Gerrard made no mistake with his shot which went straight down the middle of the goal. 1-1.
- To the fans dismay Gerrard made no mistake when taking his penalty
Shortly after, Tottenham were awarded another free-kick and once again scored from it. Luka Modric flung in a cross and the ball found it’s way to debutant Sebastien Bassong, who headed powerfully past Reina. It was Bassong’s first ever goal in the English Premier League- another unlikely Tottenham goalscorer.
- Bassong marked his debut with a goal
Changes were made following the goal as Benitez sent on Benayoun whilst Redknapp replaced Robbie Keane with Peter Crouch. Benayoun gave Liverpool some threat from the wings, unlike the man he replaced- Ryan Babel. The Dutch international had been poor throughout and could have no complaints after being substituted. He never displayed the drive and desire which he showed during Hollands friendly with England and was a big Liverpool disappointment.
Despite the introduction of Benayoun, Liverpool still didn’t look like scoring from open play, but could have won the game on penalties alone. The first penalty was a dead cert, and Phil Dowd dutifully blew his whistle after Gomes bought Johnson down. The second penalty shout was slightly less clear. Assou-Ekotto shouldered Andriy Vorinin as he ran into the box and sent the Ukrainian flailing. OK, the forward made a meal of it but in the minds of Benitez and every other Liverpool fan, it was a penalty. Phil Dowd didn’t blow up however, and play continued.
- Sammy Lee was sent to the stand after protesting about the penalty decision
I personally thought it was a penalty and blew a huge sigh of relief when Phil Dowd waved play on. It did appear Assou-Ekotto shoulder barged Voronin off the ball and I though the worst when the Ukrainian fell over. The third penalty shout was never a penalty in my eyes, and even Benitez admitted it would have been hard luck on Spurs had the referee given it. A Liverpool cross struck Assou-Ekotto on the hand but the left back had no real time to move his hands out of the way. Ball-to hand in my view, and the referee agreed.
The final whistle blew not too long after, and White Hart Lane erupted with a crescendo of noise and celebration. Unlike Tottenham’s 2-1 win over Liverpool last year in which we had rode our luck for 90 minutes, we had bossed and controlled Liverpool in this encounter. True this might only be one game but it was a good win for Harry and hopefully it will propel the squad onto a winning run. Liverpool meanwhile will have to drastically improve if they seriously want to win the title. They can’t afford to drop points against teams like Tottenham if they are to challenge Chelsea and Manchester United, and could well do with making a few signings before the transfer window swings shut in a couple of week’s time.